WASHINGTON - The United States has placed Pakistan on a special watch list "for severe violations of religious freedom", a press release by the US State Department <link> said on Thursday.
The move comes days after US President Donald Trump said Pakistan had given the US nothing but lies, despite Washington giving it more than $33 billion in aid.
"In far too many places around the globe, people continue to be persecuted, unjustly prosecuted, or imprisoned for exercising their right to freedom of religion or belief," Thursday's release read. "Today, a number of governments infringe upon individuals’ ability to adapt, change, or renounce their religion or belief, worship in accordance with their religion or beliefs, or be free from coercion to practice a particular religion or belief."
The statement also re-designated Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan as "Countries of Particular Concern" — an annual practice according to the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998.
Being on the watch list means Pakistan is a step away from being included in the "Countries of Particular Concern" list.
The list includes "governments that have engaged in or tolerated systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of religious freedom."