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US retains Pakistan on religious watch list

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Islamabad, Dec 21 (IANS) The US has retained Pakistan among the countries that tolerate religious discrimination, according to a State Depart­ment statement.

The determination, made on December 18, includes Myanmar, China, Erit­r­­ea, Iran, North Korea, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan and Turkm­enistan among the states that have been re-designated as “Countries of Particular Concern (CPC)”, Dawn news reported on Saturday citing the statement as saying on Friday.

The State Department makes these designations under the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 and countries on the CPC list are classified as “having engaged in or tolerated systematic, ongoing, (and) egregious violations of religious freedom”.

Countries in this category can face further actions, including economic sanctions, by the US.

The State Department also designated the Al-Nusra Front, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, Al Qaeda, Al-Shabab, Boko Haram, the Houthis, IS, IS-Khorasan and Taliban as Entities of Particular Concern.

“These designations underscore the US’ commitment to protect those who seek to exercise their freedom of religion or belief,” the State Department said.

“We believe that everyone, everywhere, at all times, should have the right to live according to the dictates of their conscience.”



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