Pakistan has rejected the United States State Department’s annual report on religious freedom in the country and urged the US to engage in self-introspection.
The report has been termed politically motivated in a statement issued by the Foreign Office. “Besides the clear biases reflected from these designations, there are serious questions on the credentials and impartiality of the self-proclaimed jury involved in this unwarranted exercise,” said the statement.
The statement said Pakistan is a multi-religious and pluralistic society where people of diverse faiths and denominations live together. Around 4% of the country’s total population comprises citizens belonging to Christian, Hindu, Budhists and Sikh faiths, said the statement, adding that ensuring equal treatment of minorities and their enjoyment of human rights without any discrimination is the cardinal principle of the Constitution.
According to a statement issued on Tuesday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo designated Pakistan and nine other countries as “countries of particular concern” under the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 for having engaged in or tolerated “systematic, ongoing, [and] egregious violations of religious freedom”.
In the statement, Pompeo announced he had placed Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Pakistan, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan on this list on November 28.
Apart from listing the various measures the government has undertaken to ensure representation for minorities in Pakistan, the Foreign Office statement also said that the country is submitting its compliance reports on its obligations with regard to fundamental freedoms.
“The government of Pakistan has devised well established legal and administrative mechanisms to safeguard the rights of its citizens. Pakistan does not need counsel by any individual country how to protect the rights of its minorities,” read the statement.
It also cautioned the US to engage in “honest self-introspection” to ascertain the causes of the rise of Islamophobia and anti-semitism in the US.