US using as brazen political tactic to pressure Pakistan : Mazari

US using as brazen political tactic to pressure Pakistan : Mazari

ISLAMABAD: Minister for Human Rights, Dr Shireen Mazari said it was apparent that the United States was using as a brazen political tactic to pressure Pakistan to mitigate its failures in Afghanistan.

Expressing surprise at US Administration's decision to add Pakistan in "Blacklist for religious freedom violations,"

she said timing of this move reflects this most clearly.

In a statement issued here, Dr Mazari said there was no doubt Pakistan's record on religious freedom is not ideal but then is the EU's record much better given restrictions on churches, the banning of certain dress codes of Muslims, refusal of entry of certain preachers - the list continues.

"In our own neighbourhood we have India where Muslims are being targeted and where the BJP is supporting violence

against Muslims ostensibly over "beef," she maintained.

The Minister said timing of the US move smacks of pure political blackmailing because it comes in wake of Pakistan

opening the Kartarpur corridor to ease access for Sikhs of India to their religious places as well as assisting Hindu groups to enter Pakistan for religious purposes when India has sought to prevent Muslims from Pakistan visiting Ajmer for religious purposes.

The deliberate ignoring of India's shrinking space for its religious minorities by the US while it targets Pakistan is

absurd and unacceptable.

In case the US is ignorant about large and diverse presence of Christian churches in Pakistan, the Minister said she would like to educate the Trump Administration on this count.

At the moment, she said, the following diverse denominations of Christian churches are present in Pakistan: Catholic,

Methodist, Anglican, Lutheran, Baptist, Presbyterian, Pentecostal (3 separate groups under this church), Evangelical, Renewalist, Salvation Army and then as a separate entity Church of Pakistan directly linked to Archbishop of Canterbury.

Additionally, Dr Mazari reminded that Pakistan has moved to allow its non-Muslim citizens own personal laws of marriage and divorce in keeping with their religious strictures.

She said while we have to move forward to further improve condition of all our citizens including our religious

minorities and other vulnerable groups, the US's move is not based on any facts but is a purely political move in an attempt to pressure on Pakistan to do its bidding.

Perhaps President Trump needs to be reminded of Prime Minister's pledge to the Pakistani nation that Pakistan will

only act in its own interests and not be a "hired gun" for any other power.

It is time for the US to take responsibility for its failures in Afghanistan so that it can do a course correction. And, if it is serious about religious freedoms then it needs to examine the record of Modi's India and some of its EU allies that are moving to curtail religious freedoms of its Muslim citizens.