Six influential US senators have urged secretary of state Rex 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.
Senators Bob Menendez, Marco Rubio, Chris Coons, Todd Young, Jeff Merkley and James Lankford wrote a letter to Mr Tillerson ahead of the November 13 deadline before which the state department needs to notify Congress on its country of particular concern (CPC) designations.
In the letter to Mr Tillerson, who has just concluded a visit to Afghanistan, Pakistan and India, the bipartisan group of senators said that they believe “the state department should designate Pakistan as a CPC as long recommended by US Commission on International Religious Freedom.
“The government of Pakistan continues to perpetrate and tolerate systematic, ongoing and egregious religious freedom violations. Discriminatory constitutional provisions and laws, including the country’s blasphemy and anti-Ahmadiyya measures continue to result in the unjust prosecution and imprisonment of individuals due to their faith,” the senators said in their letter.
“At least 40 people are currently sentenced to death or are serving life sentences for blasphemy. Religious minority communities, including Christians, Hindus, Ahmadis, and Shia Muslims also experience religiously motivated and sectarian violence,” said the letter. Provincial textbooks with discriminatory content against minorities remain a significant concern, they wrote. They also sought the CPC designation of Myanmar....