Washington DC: The United States has placed Pakistan on a special watch list for “severe violations of religious freedom.”
This has come in the backdrop of US President Donald Trump criticising Pakistan for not doing enough to combat terrorism, in a strongly-worded tweet.
The US Department of State on Thursday also re-designated Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, SaudiArabia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan as “countries of particular concern,” in accordance with the country’s International Religious Freedom Act for having engaged in or tolerated systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of religious freedom.
“In accordance with the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998, the Secretary of State annually designates governments that have engaged in or tolerated systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of religious freedom as ‘Countries of Particular Concern’. Today, the Department of State announces that the Secretary of State re-designated Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan as Countries of Particular Concern on December 22, 2017,” the US State Department said, in a statement.
“The Secretary also placed Pakistan on a Special Watch List for severe violations of religious freedom,” the statement added.
This unfolds also amid heightened tensions between the two countries after the Trump administration informed members of the US Congress it would soon announce plans to end “security assistance” payments to the country.
The White House warned Islamabad it would have to do more on the anti-terrorism front to receive US aid.
US Permanent Representative to the United Nations Nikki Haley also said Washington would withhold USD 255 million in assistance to Pakistan. (ANI)