Published: Sat, January 06, 2018
Medical | By Alyssa Little

Eritrea, Sudan re-designated by United States over violation of religious freedom

Eritrea, Sudan re-designated by United States over violation of religious freedom

The U.S. State Department has placed Pakistan on a "Special Watch List" for "severe violations of religious freedom", at the same time it announced cuts to security assistance to that country. The other named countries are Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

In a statement, issued on Thursday, the USA state department added Pakistan to a special watch list, while re-designating a group of other countries as being of "particular concern" on the issue of religious freedom.

Sabah adds: While stating that US President Donald Trump is frustrated but also values a partnership with Pakistan, the US National Security Adviser HR McMaster has alleged Islamabad only goes after terrorists selectively while it sustains and supports others who act as an arm of its foreign policy.

While putting Pakistan on the global religious freedom blacklist itself is a normal process, experts said the timing is "very ominous".

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The US has placed Pakistan on a watch list for "severe violations" of religious freedom, a move Pakistan has rejected as "politically motivated".

The law was passed during the Clinton administration as part of an effort to make religious freedom a key objective of USA foreign policy.

Pakistan has faced worldwide condemnation over its treatment of religious minorities, especially Christians, Ahmadi Muslims and Hindus.

The White House warned Islamabad it would have to do more on the anti-terrorism front to receive United States aid.

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Pakistan is ready to face any U.S. action, the country's defense minister and the army spokesman said.

On Monday, Trump reiterated US concerns that Pakistan provides safe havens for militants, saying it had played USA leaders for "fools".

"We recognize that several designated countries are working to improve their respect for religious freedom; we welcome these initiatives and look forward to continued dialogue", the statement said. "The re-designation of Burma as a country of particular concern is particularly appropriate, given the Burmese military's ethnic cleansing of Rohingya Muslims". "The U.S. should never shrink from calling out countries for such abuses".

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