Islamabad (December 12, 2018): Foreign Office has totally rejected the United States’ pronouncement about religious freedom in Pakistan as politically motivated.
In a statement, Foreign Office Spokesperson Dr Muhammad Faisal categorically stated Pakistan does not need counsel by any individual country how to protect the rights of its minorities.
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He said that 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.
The spokesperson said that Pakistan is a multi-religious and pluralistic society where people of diverse faiths and denominations live together.Around 4 percent of our total population comprises citizens belonging to Christian, Hindu, Buddhists and Sikh faiths.
He said that ensuring equal treatment of minorities and their enjoyment of human rights without any discrimination is the cardinal principle of the Constitution of Pakistan.
Special seats have been reserved for minorities in the Parliament to ensure their adequate representation and voice in the legislation process.
A vibrant and independent National Commission on Human Rights is functioning to address concerns on violation of the rights of minorities.
Foreign Office spokesperson pointed out that successive Governments have made it a priority that rights of citizens belonging to minority faiths are protected as guaranteed by the law and the Constitution.The higher judiciary of the country has made several landmark decisions to protect the properties and places of worships of minorities.
He said that Pakistan has devised legal and administrative mechanisms to safeguard the rights of its citizens.
The spokesperson regretted the proponents of human rights worldwide close their eyes on systematic persecution of minorities subjected to alien domination and foreign occupation such as in the Indian occupied Kashmir.
He said an honest self-introspection would also have been timely to know the causes of exponential rise in Islamophobia and anti-Semitism in the US.Earlier on Tuesday (December 11) the United States said that it has added Pakistan to its blacklist of countries that violate religious freedom, ramping up pressure over the treatment of minorities in the country.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he had designated Pakistan among “countries of particular concern” in a congressionally mandated annual report, meaning the US government is obliged to exert pressure to end freedom violations.
Pompeo a year earlier had placed Pakistan on a special watch list — a step short of the designation — in what had been seen as a US tactic to press Islamabad into reforms.“In far too many places across the globe, individuals continue to face harassment, arrests or even death for simply living their lives in accordance with their beliefs,” Pompeo said in a statement.
“The United States will not stand by as spectators in the face of such oppression,” he said.
Nine countries remained for another year on the list of Countries of Particular Concern — China, Eritrea, Iran, Myanmar, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan. They are accused of having engaged in or tolerated ”systematic, ongoing, [and] egregious violations of religious freedom”. The US removed one country from the list — Uzbekistan — but kept it on the watch list.
Pompeo also put on the watch list Russia, adding another item of contention to the relationship between the two powers.
Russia has increasingly drawn concern in the US over its treatment of Jehovah’s Witnesses, the heterodox Christian group known for proselytization.
Also on the watch list was Comoros, the Indian Ocean archipelago that is almost exclusively Sunni Muslim.