FO rejects US 'arbitrary' designation on religious freedom.

 
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ISLAMABAD -- Pakistan yesterday rejected the US State Department's 'unilateral and arbitrary' designation under the religious freedom report announced on 20 December 2019.

The foreign ministry in a statement said: 'This pronouncement is not only detached from ground realities of Pakistan but also raises questions about the credibility and transparency of the entire exercise.' It added: 'The designation is reflective of selective targeting of countries, and thus unlikely to be helpful to the professed cause of advancing religious freedom.'

Pakistan, it said, was a multi-religious and pluralistic country where people of all faiths enjoy religious freedom under constitutional protections.

'All branches -- the Executive, Legislature and the Judiciary -- have made concerted efforts to ensure that all citizens of Pakistan, irrespective of faith, denomination, caste or creed, can profess and practice their religion in full freedom. The higher judiciary of the country has given landmark judgements directing on ensuring the sanctity and security of places of worship of minorities,' the statement said.

Earlier, the US Department of State announced that it was retaining Pakistan among 'Countries of Particular Concern' over its tolerance for 'violations of religious freedom.'

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The designation, announced in a statement by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, is in line with the US' desire to 'work diligently to promote religious freedom and combat abuses.' Countries in this category can face further actions, including economic sanctions, by the United States.

The foreign ministry said Pakistan had also engaged with the international community, including the US, for better understanding on religious freedom issues.

This year, Senator Samuel Brownback, the US Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom, was welcomed in Pakistan for dialogue to...

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