In a positive development, Pakistan gets US Presidential waiver from immediate sanctions

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In a positive development, Pakistan gets US Presidential waiver from immediate sanctions

*WASHINGTON: United States Secretary of State Michael 'Mike' Pompeo has issued a Presidential waiver for Pakistan, exempting it from any subsequent sanctions that follow a country's designation as a violator of religious freedom.*

On Monday, Secretary Pompeo designated Pakistan and nine other nations as *Countries of Particular Concern (CPC)* for alleged violations of religious freedom (in the 2019-2020 period). Pakistan subsequently rejected this designation, stating that it was an "arbitrary and selective assessment”, which was “completely against the realities on the ground and raises serious doubts about the credibility of the exercise”.

These designations, which fell under the ambit of the *United States International Religious Freedom Act of 1998*, leads to the imposition of strict economic sanctions against the alleged violator.

The United States' Ambassador-at-large for International Religious Freedom Samuel D. Brownback mentioned in a press briefing on Tuesday that *some* of the designated countries have been exempted from these sanctions.

Brownback stated that “For Pakistan, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan, the Secretary issued a waiver for the presidential action requirement, determining that there were important national interests of the United States requiring the exercise of the waiver authority".

Furthermore, Pakistan also pointed out that "the glaring omission of India, where the RSS-BJP regime and their leaders openly disregard religious freedom and discriminate against minorities communities in an institutional manner, is unfortunate and puts the credibility of the US report into question”.

Ambassador Brownback, upon being reminded in the press briefing of the discriminatory policies being enacted by the Modi government, stated that "There were several recommendations made by the commission that the Secretary did not follow, and this was one of them,” adding that “We watch the situation in India very closely. The Secretary traveled there, multiple times … and is well aware of a lot of the communal violence that’s happening in India".

Upon the designations pertaining to Pakistan, Ambassador Brownback stated that "we have reviewed extensively the situation in Pakistan and India, and I’ve visited both countries in this role. I’ve visited both countries … and we note the problems that are taking place in our annual report in both Pakistan and India".