Pakistan rejects designation as “Country of Particular Concern” by US

Islamabad: Pakistan on Monday categorically rejected its designation as “a Country of Particular Concern” by the United States State Department, calling it “detached from ground realities”.

“We are deeply dismayed that the designation is based on biased and arbitrary assessment, detached from ground realities,” Foreign Office Spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch said in a statement.

She said that Pakistan was a pluralistic country, with a rich tradition of interfaith harmony. In line with its Constitution, Pakistan had undertaken wide ranging measures to promote religious freedom and protect minority rights, she added.

“We note with deep concern that India, the biggest and serial violator of religious freedom, has once again been excluded from the US State Department’s designation list. This is despite clear recommendation by the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) as well as public concerns raised by international human rights constituencies about India’s maltreatment of religious minorities.This conspicuous omission raises serious questions about the credibility, transparency and objectivity of the entire process,” the spokesperson remarked.

She said that Pakistan remained convinced that such discriminatory, unilateral and subjective exercises were counterproductive and undermined the shared objective to advance religious freedom globally.

“Pakistan strongly believes that the contemporary challenge of religious intolerance, xenophobia and Islamophobia can be best countered through constructive engagement and collective efforts based on mutual understanding and respect. With a similar spirit, Pakistan has bilaterally engaged the US,” the spokesperson added.

She said that Pakistan’s concerns about the designation were being conveyed to the US side.