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Washington D.C. [USA], Dec 12 (ANI): Responding to United States Department of State's designation of Pakistan as 'Countries of Particular Concern' under the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998, Islamabad rejected the profiling, terming it 'unilateral and politically motivated pronouncement'.

"Besides the clear biases reflected from these designations, there are serious questions on the credentials and impartiality of the self-proclaimed jury involved in this unwarranted exercise," Pakistan stated in a press release.

Hitting back at Washington, Islamabad stated that it does not need counsel by any individual country how to protect the rights of its minorities.

Pakistan further slammed the US stating, "An honest self-introspection would also have been timely to know the causes of the exponential rise in Islamophobia and anti-Semitism in the US."

United States Department of State Secretary Michael R Pompeo designated Pakistan along with Burma (Myanmar), China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Pakistan, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan, as Countries of Particular Concern under the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998.

In the press release issued on December 11, Pompeo stated that these countries were engaged in or tolerated "systematic, ongoing, [and] egregious violations of religious freedom."

Pompeo, further stated that countries including Comoros, Russia, and Uzbekistan have been placed on a 'Special Watch List' for governments that have engaged in or tolerated severe violations of religious freedom.

The Department of State Secretary further revealed that several organisations including, al-Nusra Front, al-Qa'ida in the Arabian Peninsula, al-Qa'ida, al-Shabab, Boko Haram, the Houthis, ISIS, ISIS-Khorasan, and the Taliban have been designated as Entities of Particular Concern.

Noting that multiple people continue to face harassment, arrests, and even death for living their lives in accordance with their beliefs, Pompeo stated that the US will take a firm stand and not be a mere spectator of such oppression.

"Protecting and promoting international religious freedom is a top foreign policy priority of the Trump Administration. In July, I hosted the first-ever Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom, which brought together some 85 likeminded governments and more than 400 civil society organizations to harness global attention and motivate forceful action to advance respect for the human right of religious freedom," the State Department spokesperson emphasised.

He further underscored that safeguarding religious freedom is important to ensure peace, stability and prosperity.

"These designations are aimed at improving the lives of individuals and the broader success of their societies," he reiterated.

He further said that the US recognises and welcomes the initiative taken by several designated countries to improve their respect towards religious freedom.

Pompeo also assured that the US is committed to working with governments, civil society organizations, and religious leaders to advance religious freedom around the world. (ANI)

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