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US blacklists Pakistan again for persecuting minorities

US blacklists Pakistan again for persecuting minorities

Having been criticized widely for the continuous ill-treatment of its minorities – including the Ahmadis, Balochs, Pashtuns, Hindus, Sikhs, Christians and Shia Muslims – Pakistan's redesignation as a "country of particular concern,” or CPC, by the United States has come as no surprise. The US State Department has once again found the Imran Khan government engaging in systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of religious freedom, as defined by the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA).

Besides Pakistan, the countries the State Department designated as CPCs are China, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Eritrea, Iran, Nigeria, Burma, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan, all of which, besides Nigeria, it had previously so designated.

"The US is unwavering in its commitment to religious freedom. No country or entity should be allowed to persecute people with impunity because of their beliefs. These annual designations show that when religious freedom is attacked, we will act," said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Tuesday.

The US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) which had recommended Pakistan's redesignation as CPC, praised the State Department’s announcement.

"We are gratified that the State Department has named 10 countries as CPCs. We particularly welcome Nigeria's designation for the first time as a CPC for tolerating egregious violations of religious freedom, which USCIRF had been recommending since 2009. Nigeria is the first secular democracy that has been named a CPC, which demonstrates that we must be vigilant that all forms of governments respect religious freedom," said Chair Gayle Manchin.

USCIRF had recommended earlier in 2020 that Pakistan stays on the CPC list as religious freedom conditions across the country continued to trend negatively. The report was based on violations done in 2019, the crime rate against the religious minorities in Pakistan has touched an all-time high this year.


Pakistan’s population is 96.28 percent Muslim (85–90 percent Sunni, 10–15 percent Shia, and 0.22 percent Ahmadi), with smaller populations of Hindus (1.60 percent); Christians (1.59 percent); and Sikhs, Buddhists, Bahais, and Zoroastrians/Parsis (<1 percent).

"The systematic enforcement of blasphemy and anti-Ahmadiyya laws, and authorities’ failure to address forced conversions of religious minorities — including Hindus, Christians, and Sikhs — to Islam, has severely restricted freedom of religion or belief," the commission said in its report.

It noted that Pakistan's blashphemy laws create a culture of impunity for violent attacks following accusations and listed several violent attacks on minorities including murdere of an Ahmadi professor over perceived "anti-Islamic" remarks, burning of Hindu shops in Sindh, attacks on Christian community in Punjab after a mosque claimed over its loudspeaker that the community had insulted Islam, over 200 Christian families in Karachi being forced to flee their homes due to mob attacks after false blasphemy accusations against four Christian women, and so on.


The commission had also expressed deep concern over the treatment of Ahmadi Muslims who, with their faith essentially criminalized, continued to face severe persecution from authorities as well as societal harassment due to their beliefs, with both the authorities and mobs targeting their houses of worship.

Besides redesignating Pakistan as a “country of particular concern,” USCIRF also recommended to the US government to impose targeted sanctions on Pakistani government agencies and officials responsible for severe violations of religious freedom by freezing those individuals’ assets and/or barring their entry into the United States under human rights-related financial and visa authorities, citing specific religious freedom violations. It recommended that Pakistan should repeal its highly controversial blasphemy and anti-Ahmadiyya laws.

However, in spite of suffering the great ignominy every year, Pakistani deep state continues to step up its suppression on minorities in the country. IndiaNarrative.com has highlighted the deep and direct involvement of state agencies in the enforced disappearances and extra-judicial killings of minorities, especially in Balochistan and against the Ahmadis all over the country.


“Pakistani authorities should urgently and impartially investigate a surge in violent attacks on members of the Ahmadiyya religious community. The authorities should take appropriate legal action against those responsible for threats and violence against Ahmadis,” Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) said in a joint statement last month.

Pakistan also remains a base for extremist groups like the Pakistani Taliban and Lashkar-e Jhangvi who have targeted the Shias and Sufi Muslims.

“Firm action needs to be taken against mob violence and vigilantism targeting the Shiite communities. The Pakistani government is responsible for ensuring the rights, safety, and security of all its citizens, including religious minorities who are particularly vulnerable to the country’s rigid blasphemy laws,” said USCIRF Vice Chair Anurima Bhargava in November.

Well, if only Pakistani government had been responsible enough all these years, the country would not have remained in the 'grey list' of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), the global terror financing watchdog, since 2018, she added