Pakistan rejects US designation on religious freedom

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Pakistan Tuesday rejected a U.S. State Department designation placing Islamabad on a list of countries it says violates religious freedom.

Calling the designation “arbitrary,” a Foreign Ministry statement said: “This pronouncement is not only detached from ground realities of Pakistan but also raises questions about the credibility and transparency of the entire exercise.”

The designation, it added, is reflective of selective targeting of countries, and thus is unlikely to be helpful to the professed cause of advancing religious freedom.

“Pakistan is a multi-religious and pluralistic country where people of all faiths enjoy religious freedom under constitutional protections,” the statement said.

“The subjectivity and bias of the State Department’s designations are further illustrated by the conspicuous omission of India, the biggest violator of religious freedom,” it added, referring to a controversial citizenship bill that sparked nationwide protests across India.

For its part, Pakistan has also raised concerns over growing Islamophobia in many Western countries including the U.S., the statement concluded.

The U.S. State Department designation was announced on Dec. 11.

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