United States said today it has added Pakistan to its blacklist of countries that violate religious freedom, ramping up pressure over its treatment of minorities.
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.
The United States has placed Pakistan on its blacklist of countries that violate religious freedom, a move likely to further worsen troubled relations with Islamabad.
The State Department’s annual report on religious freedom, released December 11, removed for the first time since 2006 Uzbekistan as a “Country of Particular Concern,” something that had irked the government in Tashkent.
However, the State Department did, however, include Uzbekistan on a special Watch List. That designation included Russia, where the department said dozens of religious groups have been targeted including Jehovah’s Witnesses, Baptists, Lutherans, and others, since a 2016 law was passed criminalizing certain kinds of missionary activity.
Mr 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.
Human rights advocates have long voiced worry about the treatment of minorities in Pakistan, including Shiites, Ahmadis and Christians.