US lawmakers urged Tillerson to designate Pakistan as “country of particular concern”

Vastavam web: Two US lawmakers today urged Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to designate Pakistan as a “country of particular concern” over its “systematic and egregious” violations of religious freedom of minorities.Congressmen Randy Hultgren and James P McGovern, Co- Chairs of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, wrote a letter to Tillerson alleging that the Pakistan government engaged in severe repression of religious freedom for several years, and there are no signs that the repression will lessen or end.Designating Pakistan as a CPC is not just a moral imperative, it is a legally-mandated one under International Religious Freedom Act, and it can only enhance US credibility around the world as a defender of religious freedom and opponent of extremist violence, they said.
“These are not isolated instances, but are due to intrinsic failings of Pakistani legal and governmental systems that have continued unabated across multiple governments and under various ruling parties for decades, with no major politicians within Pakistan willing to forcefully advocate for changing the status quo, the letter said.Religiously discriminatory constitutional provisions and legislation, such as the country’s blasphemy and anti- Ahmadiyya laws, continue to result in prosecutions and imprisonments, they said.
They also noted that religious minority communities are subject to sectarian violence, and that the Pakistani government’s longstanding failure to prevent or prosecute such violence has created a deep-rooted climate of impunity that has emboldened extremists.Last month, six influential Senators had urged Tillerson to designate Pakistan as a “country of particular concern” on the issue of religious freedom violation, saying its discriminatory laws continue to result in prosecution of individuals due to their faith.