Islamabad: Pakistan rejected the US’ designation of the nation as ‘country of particular concern’, and termed the assessment ‘arbitrary’.
Pakistan foreign ministry spokesperson Asim Iftikhar Ahmed said that the assessment was completely against the ‘realities on the ground’.
The United States designated Pakistan, China, Iran, North Korea, and Myanmar as nations of particular concern for violating religious freedom.
“I am designating Burma (Myanmar), the People’s Republic of China, Eritrea, Iran, the DPRK, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan as Countries of Particular Concern for having engaged in or tolerated systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of religious freedom,” US secretary of state Antony Blinken said.
It also designated the Taliban as ‘Entity of Particular Concern’ along with al-Shabab, Boko Haram, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, the Houthis, ISIS, ISIS-Greater Sahara, ISIS-West Africa, Jamaat Nasr al-Islam wal-Muslimin.
Pakistan said that Blinken’s statement raised issues on the credibility of the assessment. “Such subjective designations do not contribute towards promoting the cause of religious freedom worldwide,” Asim Iftikhar Ahmed said.
Ahmed stressed that the Pakistani society was ‘multi-religious and pluralistic with a rich tradition of inter-faith harmony’. “Religious freedom and the protection of the rights of minorities are guaranteed by the constitution and ensured through a range of legislative, policy, and administrative measures,” he was quoted as saying in news reports.