Washington: American Senator Marco Rubio has criticised Pakistan's blasphemy law, saying it continues to "encourage" violence and marginalisation of religious minorities in the country.
"In Pakistan, we have seen proponents of religious freedom murdered for criticising blasphemy laws," Mr Rubio, also a former Republican presidential candidate, said on the Senate floor this week.
He cited the March, 2011 killing of Shahbaz Bhatti, saying the Pakistani Federal Minister of Minority Affairs - and, the only Christian to serve in Pakistan's Cabinet - was shot to death by the Pakistani Taliban outside of his mother's home.
"Five years have passed. The Pakistani government has failed to bring his murderers to justice and have failed to reform the blasphemy law that continues to encourage violence, murder with impunity, and the marginalisation of religious minorities," Mr Rubio said.
"As a result, numerous other prisoners of conscience in Pakistan suffer behind bars," the Senator from Florida alleged.