External Affairs

US Places Pakistan on Watch List for Religious Freedom Violations

People wait outside the State Department in Washington, US, June 2, 2017. Credit: Reuters/Yuri Gripas

Washington: The US State Department has placed Pakistan on a special watch list for “severe violations of religious freedom,” it said on Thursday, days after the White House said Islamabad would have to do more to combat terrorism to receive US aid.

The State Department also said it had re-designated ten other nations as “countries of particular concern” under the International Religious Freedom Act for having engaged in or tolerated egregious violations of religious freedom.

The re-designated countries were China, Eritrea, Iran, Myanmar, North Korea, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. They were re-designated on December 22.

“The protection of religious freedom is vital to peace, stability, and prosperity,” the department said in a statement. “These designations are aimed at improving the respect for religious freedom in these countries.”

US president Donald Trump has criticised Pakistan for not doing more to combat terrorism, and his administration has informed members of Congress that it will announce plans to end “security assistance” payments to the country.

Pakistan has said it is already doing a lot to fight militants, and summoned the US ambassador to explain a tweet by Trump that said the US had been foolish in dispensing aid to Islamabad.