The United States on Wednesday designated Pakistan as a country of particular concern (CPC) over violations of religious freedom taking place in the country. Pakistan was listed among a group of ten countries, including China, Russia, and Saudi Arabia, by the US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken.
Secretary Blinken alleged that the listed countries had engaged in or tolerated ‘systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of religious freedom’.
Pakistan was first placed on this list in 2018, by the then Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. The country has since been maintained on the list each year by the two successive administrations. At the time that Pakistan was first included in this list, an official of the Trump administration said that the decision was taken in part due to the country’s blasphemy laws. The decision by the US State Department came shortly after Asia Bibi, a Christian woman accused of blasphemy was acquitted by Pakistan’s Supreme Court.
This year the US Commission for International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) also recommended that India be placed on the list of CPC. “Designate India as a country of particular concern, for engaging in and tolerating religious freedom violation”, said the USCIRF. However, this recommendation was not accepted by the state department.
CPC is a designation by the US Secretary of State for nations guilty of violations of religious freedom under the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998. Violations include prolonged detention without charge, the disappearance of persons by abduction, denials of the right to life and liberty among others.