Thursday May 30, 2024

Pakistan rejects US report on religious freedom

By Mariana Baabar
November 19, 2021
Pakistan rejects US report on religious freedom

ISLAMABAD: Completely rejecting the US State Department’s domestic legislation on religious freedom which saw Pakistan designated a “country of particular concern”, the Foreign Office (FO) said the step was arbitrary and selective assessment, and completely against the realities on the ground.

“This raises serious doubts about the credibility of this exercise. Such subjective designations do not contribute towards promoting the cause of religious freedom worldwide. Pakistan and the US have been constructively engaging on the subject at the bilateral level, a fact regrettably overlooked by the US,” said the spokesman at the Foreign Office.

In a statement the US Secretary State Anthony J. Blinken included Pakistan under the US International Religious Freedom Act. “I am designating Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, the DPRK, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan as countries of particular concern for having engaged in or tolerated systematic, ongoing and egregious violations of religious freedom. We will continue to press all governments to remedy shortcomings in their laws and practices and to promote accountability for those responsible for abuses,” he added.

Brushing aside these allegations the spokesman said, “Pakistani society is multi-religious and pluralistic with a rich tradition of inter-faith harmony. Religious freedom and the protection of the rights of minorities are guaranteed by our Constitution and ensured through a range of legislative, policy and administrative measures”.

For Pakistan the omission of India in the list was shocking. “The glaring omission of India, where the RSS-BJP regime and their leaders openly disregard religious freedom and discriminate against minority communities in an institutionalised manner, is unfortunate and puts the credibility of the US report into question”, said the spokesperson. He pointed to state complicity in organised violence against the Muslim minority in India is a matter of record. It is no secret that attacks by cow vigilantes and mob lynching of Indian Muslims take place regularly, with complete impunity for the perpetrators.

“Systematic demonisation, dispossession, marginalisation and targeted violence against Muslims in Hindutva-inspired India has become commonplace. The findings and recommendations of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom as well as the US Congressional hearings on the maltreatment of minorities in India and the violation of religious freedom including in the Muslim-majority Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJ&K) were ignored by the US State Department”, he stated.

Instead Pakistan has asked the US for redressal of the rising trend of intolerance, discrimination, xenophobia and Islamophobia requires global efforts based on the principles of cooperation and mutual understanding. “Pakistan is sincerely playing its part in this endeavour and will continue to do so”, said the spokesperson.

Reacting to the reaction from India on Wednesday’s legislation on Commander Jadhav which is a legal obligation the spokesman responded, “There is absolute clarity on the legislation adopted by the Parliament. The International Court of Justice (Review and Re-consideration) Act, 2020 provides for the right of review and reconsideration in giving effect to the judgment of the ICJ in the case of Commander Jadhav. Commander Jadhav, an Indian spy and RAW operative, facilitated numerous acts of terrorism in Pakistan, which resulted in the killings of countless innocent citizens of Pakistan”, he said.

The passage of the Bill has reaffirmed that Pakistan continues to take its obligation with regard to the ICJ judgment very seriously, he added. In this regard he said that it was deeply regrettable that the Government of India has refused to avail itself of the legal remedies provided by Pakistan. “Government of Pakistan once again reminds the Government of India of its obligation to arrange for legal representation of Commander Jadhav under paragraph 118 of the ICJ judgment”, he said.

On re-opening of the Kartarpur Corridor, he said there was no pressure on Pakistan to do so. On decision to send wheat from India to Afghanistan through Wagah, the spokesman responded that the modalities are still being worked out.