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Pakistan rejects US religious freedom report calling it ‘biased’ and ‘unsubstantiated’

Pentagon; Imran Khan; pakistan

Pakistan’s Foreign Office said Pakistan is a multi-religious, multi-cultural and pluralistic society where people of different faiths are living together.¬†

 

Islamabad|¬†¬†Pakistan on Friday rejected a report on religious freedom in the country by the US Commission on International Religious Freedom terming it as “biased” and “unsubstantiated”.

Among the key findings of the report issued by the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) were, in 2018, religious freedom conditions in Pakistan generally trended negative despite the government taking some positive steps to promote religious freedom and combat religiously motivated violence and hate speech.

During the year, extremist groups and societal actors continued to discriminate against and attack religious minorities, including Hindus, Christians, Sikhs, Ahmadis, and Shi’a Muslims, the report said.

It said that the Pakistan government failed to adequately protect these groups, and it perpetrated systematic, ongoing, egregious religious freedom violations.

Also forced conversions of non-Muslims continued despite the passage of the Hindu Marriage Act, which recognizes Hindu family law, and these occurred despite some optimism about the potential for reform under the new government of Prime Minister Imran Khan, the report said.

The USCIRF recommended that Pakistan should be designated as a “country of particular concern, or CPC, under the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA).

Pakistan Foreign Office, in a statement, said “Pakistan has seen the recent report issued by the US Department of State on International Religious Freedom.

“The report’s segment on Pakistan is a compendium of unsubstantiated and biased assertions. As a matter of principle, Pakistan does not support such national reports making observations on the internal affairs of sovereign States. Pakistan, therefore, rejects these observations.”

It said Pakistan is a multi-religious, multi-cultural and pluralistic society where people of different faiths are living together and their contributions to the society add to its richness and diversity.

FO said the right of people with different faiths are guaranteed under the Constitution of Pakistan and these constitutional guarantees are underwritten by a vigilant judiciary that has demonstrated resolve to protect the fundamental rights – including religious freedoms – in recent high profile cases.

It also said that Pakistan was implementing a comprehensive “National Action Plan on Human Rights” with focus on policy, legal reforms, access to justice and international UN Treaty implementation.

The government has also allocated Rs 750 million for the implementation of the Plan.

It said Pakistan has always played a positive role and engaged the international community, including the US, with a view to having a better and mutual understanding of the issue of religious freedoms, which are under stress around the world.

“Pakistan is of the view that all countries are obliged to promote religious harmony and have a duty to protect their citizens in accordance with national laws and international norms,” said FO.

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