Pakistan in and India out of America's new religious freedom blacklist
*WASHINGTON: *The US on Friday issued its 2019 annual blacklist for religious freedom violations, keeping Pakistan in it for a second year but still ignoring India, despite its targeting of Muslims over cow slaughter allegations, occupied Kashmir lockdown and the latest citizenship act on communal lines.
Nine countries, including Pakistan, remained on the State Department’s annual list of “countries of particular concern” for having engaged in or tolerated “systematic, ongoing, egregious violations of religious freedom”. Sudan is the only nation removed from the blacklist.
Pakistan was designated in 2018 after years of US hesitation over concerns on the treatment of minorities.
According to the announcement made by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Pakistan’s name featured in the list of countries, which are subject to sanctions over religious liberty.
“On December 18, 2019, the Department of State re-designated Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan as Countries of Particular Concern,” Pompeo said in the statement.
“The Department renewed the placement of Comoros, Russia, and Uzbekistan on a Special Watch List (SWL) for governments that have engaged in or tolerated “severe violations of religious freedom, and added Cuba, Nicaragua, Nigeria, and Sudan to this list,” he added.
“Finally, we designated al-Nusra Front, al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula, al-Qa’ida, al-Shabab, Boko Haram, the Houthis, ISIS, ISIS-Khorasan, and the Taliban as Entities of Particular Concern,” Pompeo said in the statement.
These designations under the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 for “having engaged in or tolerated systematic, ongoing, egregious violations of religious freedom” underscored the US commitment to protect those who seek to exercise their freedom of religion or belief, Pompeo said.
The statement said that persecution and discrimination on the basis of religion or belief existed in every region of the world. “The United States continues to work diligently to promote religious freedom and combat abuses,” it said.