It’s been fourteenth year in row, as the United State’ State Department continues to override recommendations made by U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, to blacklist Pakistan for violations of religious freedom right.
US State Department has once again decided not to designate Pakistan a “country of particular concern” under the 1998 International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA) despite the fact that Pakistan government is systematically rejecting calls to amend or quash world’s most infamous blasphemy laws.
Only a few days ago, a new U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) report portrayed the dire situation for Christians in Pakistan who are subjected to intolerance, at all levels even at the school level. A major concern was raised regarding the religious prejudice and intolerance against Christians and Hindus is being promoted in public school textbooks in Pakistan.
US State Department’ spokesperson- John Kirby announced this year’s country of particular concern” (CPC) designations last week; and the new additions are unlike those listed every year. The mainstay of eight countries of particular concern for religious freedom violations are countries like, Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Uzbekistan; which have been in this list since 2007. Previously, in 2014, the Secretary of State John Kerry added Turkmenistan to the list, while this year John Kerry has added Tajikistan in this list.
Despite continuous recommendations from USCIRF, to designate Pakistan as a country of particular concern, yet this recommendation has been turned down despite several instances of religion based persecution in the Islamic country.
In line with this year’ World Watch List of countries where Christians are persecuted most, Pakistan ranked as the sixth worst country in the world for Christian persecution. At the same time, Open Doors, another watchdog stated that Pakistan met its “highest levels of persecution” during the last year, further stating that Pakistan and Nigeria are the two countries where “most intensive violence against Christians took place” from Nov. 1, 2014 to Oct. 31, 2015.
The USCIRF Chairman-Robert George, while remarking about persecution of Christians in Pakistan said: “There is no doubt that Pakistan is a systematic ongoing egregious violator of human rights. Look at some of the terrible things that have gone on and that go on year in and year out in Pakistan — either with the government’s complicity or the government turning a blind eye as thugs and mobs and terrorist groups violate the religious freedom of vulnerable minorities.”
“Of all the countries that we have recommended that have so far not been designated as CPC’s, I, myself, put Pakistan at the very top of the list,” George added. “If the State Department said, ‘We will give you one, which one do you want?’ I would have to say it would be Pakistan.”