Violation of religious freedom in Pak by govt: US diplomat

Washington: The violation of religious freedom in Pakistan is done by the government, while in India, much of it is communal violence, a top American diplomat has said, explaining why Islamabad, and not New Delhi, has been designated as a country of particular concern by the US.

US Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom Samuel Brownback defended the action taken against Pakistan.

“(In) Pakistan – a lot of their actions (violations of religious freedom) are done by the government. In India, some of them are done by the government and the law that was passed, and much of it is communal violence. And then when that takes place, we try to determine whether or not there has been effective police enforcement, judicial action after communal violence takes place,” he told reporters during a conference call.

Brownback was responding to a question as to why US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo designated Pakistan as a country of particular concern and not India.

The top American diplomat said that half of the world’s people that are locked up for apostasy or blasphemy are in Pakistani jails.

“We just had really a difficult webinar this morning on forced brides into China, and one of the source places is Pakistan religious minorities, Christians and Hindu women being marketed as concubines or forced brides into China because there’s not effective support, and then there’s discrimination against the religious minorities that make them more vulnerable,” he said.

“That doesn’t mean that India doesn’t have problems. … The violence is a problem. We’ll continue to raise those issues, but those are some of the basis as to why Pakistan continues to be on the country of particular concern (CPC) list and India is not,” Brownback said, adding that he has made several trips to both the countries.

Pompeo designated Pakistan and China along with eight other countries that are of particular concern for engaging in or tolerating “systematic, ongoing, egregious violations of religious freedom.” The US Commission for International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) had recommended to the State Department to designate India also as a CPC. Notably, the State Department did not accept the recommendation.

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