ISLAMABAD, Dec 12 (APP):Pakistan on Wednesday rejected the US State Department’s move to place it in the list of countries of particular concern, terming it a “unilateral and politically motivated pronouncement”.
The Government of Pakistan has devised well establishment legal and administrative mechanisms to safeguard the rights of its citizens, the Foreign Office said and pointed “Pakistan does not need counsel by any individual country how to protect the rights of its minorities.”
The report on religious freedom while ignoring the systematic religious targeting of minorities in India, particularly the Muslims, places it in Tier 2 and moves Pakistan up a notch from the Watch List to Tier 1.
“Besides the clear biases reflected from these designations, there are serious questions on the credentials and impartiality of the self proclaimed jury involved in this unwarranted exercise,” the Foreign Office said.
Pakistan’s reaction in response to the release of the annual religious freedom report released by U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) on Tuesday highlighted the steps taken by the country over the years to protect its minorities.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in a statement said he had designated Pakistan among “countries of particular concern” in a congressionally mandated annual report, meaning the U.S. government was obliged to exert pressure to end freedom violations. The United States added Pakistan to the list of countries that violate religious freedom.
Pakistan pointed that “sadly, the proponents of human rights worldwide close their eyes on systematic persecution of minorities subjected to alien domination and foreign occupation such as in the occupied Jammu and Kashmir.”
In 2017 a Pew Research Centre analysis ranked India as among the worst in the world for religious intolerance. In the country of 1.3 billion, the incidence of hostility related to religion followed Syria, Nigeria, and Iraq; the countries known for sectarian violence.
“An honest self introspection would also have been timely to know the causes of exponential rise in Islamophobia and anti-Semitism in the US.”
The Foreign Office said Pakistan was a multi-religious and pluralistic society where people of diverse faiths and denominations live together. Around four percent of its population comprises citizens belonging to Christian, Hindu, Budhists and Sikh faiths.
“Ensuring equal treatment of minorities and their enjoyment of human rights without any discrimination is the cardinal principle of the Constitution of Pakistan,” the statement said.
Special seats have been reserved for minorities in the Parliament to ensure their adequate representation and voice in the legislation process. A vibrant and independent National Commission on Human Rights was functioning to address concerns on violation of the rights of minorities.
Successive Governments have made it a priority that rights of citizens belonging to minority faiths are protected as guaranteed by the law and the Constitution. The higher judiciary of the country has made several landmark decisions to protect the properties and places of worships of minorities.
As a party to 7 out of the 9 core human rights treaties, Pakistan is submitting its compliance reports on its obligations with regard to fundamental freedoms.
The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) is an independent, bipartisan U.S. government advisory body, separate from the U.S. State Department, that monitors religious freedom abroad and makes policy recommendations to the president, secretary of state, and Congress.
In 2018, USCIRF recommended that the State Department redesignate ten countries as CPCs: Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.
“USCIRF also finds that six other countries meet the CPC standard and should be so designated: Central African Republic, Nigeria, Pakistan, Russia, Syria, and Vietnam.”
While at the same time the USCIRF placed 12 countries on Tier 2: Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Cuba,
Egypt, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Laos, Malaysia, and Turkey. These nations have been tagged for violations engaged in, or tolerated by the government during 2017 as serious and characterized by at least one of the elements of the “systematic, ongoing, and egregious” CPC standard.