Pak rubbishes US ‘biased’ religious freedom designation

0
185
Pak

FO says Pakistan adopted wide-ranging measures to promote religious freedom

Khayam Abbasi

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has rebuked the US State Department for designating it as “a Country of Particular Concern”, calling it a “biased and arbitrary assessment”.

The Foreign Office (FO) spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch said, “We categorically reject Pakistan’s designation as ‘a Country of Particular Concern’ by the US State Department. We are deeply dismayed that the designation is based on biased and arbitrary assessment, detached from ground realities.”

Pakistan, she added, is a pluralistic country, with a rich tradition of interfaith harmony. “In line with its Constitution, Pakistan has undertaken wide-ranging measures to promote religious freedom and protect minority rights.”

Raising objections to the list, Baloch said: “We note with deep concern that India, the biggest and serial violator of religious freedom, has once again been excluded from the US State Department’s designation list.”

The Foreign Office spox further said, “This is despite a clear recommendation by the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) as well as public concerns raised by international human rights constituencies about India’s maltreatment of religious minorities. This conspicuous omission raises serious questions about the credibility, transparency and objectivity of the entire process.”

Such discriminatory, unilateral and subjective exercises were counterproductive and undermined Pakistan’s shared objective to advance religious freedom globally, she added.

Islamabad has urged that the contemporary challenge of religious intolerance, xenophobia and Islamophobia can be best countered through constructive engagement and collective efforts based on mutual understanding and respect.

“With a similar spirit, Pakistan has bilaterally engaged the United States. She concluded that Pakistan’s concerns about the designation are being conveyed to the US side.”

Baloch also said that Pakistan strongly believes that the contemporary challenge of religious intolerance, xenophobia and Islamophobia can be best countered through constructive engagement and collective efforts based on mutual understanding and respect. “With a similar spirit, Pakistan has bilaterally engaged the US.”