Arbitrary US decision

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PAKISTAN Thursday expressed its deep concern and disappointment over being included as a “Country of Particular Concern (CPC)” by what it said was the US State Department’s unilateral and arbitrary decision, and said it had conveyed its concerns to the US government.

In a statement, the Foreign Office said on Thursday that the pronouncement is detached from the ground realities of Pakistan as the country has a multi-religious and pluralistic society with a rich tradition of inter-faith harmony.

Religious freedom and protection of rights of minorities are guaranteed in the Constitution and enforced through a range of legislative, policy and administrative measures.

The Foreign Office has done well by highlighting the unilateral and arbitrary nature of the US decision, which is based not on merit but political considerations.

Such designations and reports are repeatedly used to squeeze different countries that do not follow the US lines on certain issues and are used as a tool of arms twisting.

This is also evident from the exclusion of India from the list of the countries of particular concern despite the fact that almost all religious minorities are treated as third rate citizens in that country.

Muslims, Christians, Sikhs and even Dalits are highly discriminated against by the state and central governments while their members are openly persecuted by majority Hindus with the tacit approval of the local administration and police.

It is strange that the US Secretary of State opted to leave out India despite recommendations made by the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) that India be designated a “country of particular concern” for engaging in or tolerating “systematic, ongoing, and egregious” violations of religious freedom.

As against this, barring some stray incidents, which are usual in almost every society, the rights of minorities are fully protected in Pakistan and the measures taken by the state for their welfare are duly acknowledged by them.