United States puts Pak on Special Watch List for violation of religious freedom

Myanmar stays on US list of nations accused of violating religious freedom

The United States has redesignated North Korea as a violator of religious freedom for the 17th consecutive year, the State Department said Thursday.

Separately, the U.S. State Department redesignated 10 countries, including Myanmar, China, Iran and North Korea, as "countries of particular concern" for having engaged in or tolerated violations of religious freedom.

Spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement on Thursday that many people in the world are being unduly indicted, persecuted and jailed for exercising their religious freedom. "That changed today", former Pakistani ambassador Husain Haqqani tweeted, referencing the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom.

Earlier in the day, Tillerson in accordance with the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998, announced his designation of governments that have engaged in or tolerated systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of religious freedom as "Countries of Particular Concern".

The statement also said Pakistan had been placed on a special watch list for "severe violations of religious freedom".

The State Department raised the issue of religious intolerance in Pakistan in a 2016 report, and said US officials have met with various Pakistani officials to discuss ways to combat violence and intolerance against religious minorities. "These designations are aimed at improving the respect for religious freedom in these countries", it adds. "His most recent assessment is that Pakistan does not meet the criteria for CPC designation, but meets the Special Watch List criteria", a State Department Spokesperson told PTI.

"It's not only Pakistan that we pay billions of dollars to for nothing, but also many other countries, and others". Around ten other nations have been listed as "Countries of Particular Concern" by the US.

Moeed Yusuf, associate vice president of the United States Institute of Peace, said there is a consensus within the Trump administration that it would increase pressure on Pakistan. "Although USCIRF agrees with the 10 countries on the State Department's list, it does not go far enough", said Daniel Mark, chairman of the commission, in a press release.

The State Department announced that it's placing the South Asian nation on a special watch list, pursuant to 2016 legislation.

"However, I am troubled that Vietnam was again not designated this year", he said.

Russian Federation was also among the countries that the State Department omitted from its list of CPCs.

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