by Wajid Ali Syed
WASHINGTON: As many as six top US senators have urged the secretary of state to designate Pakistan as a ‘country of particular concern’ (CPC) over the issue of religious freedom violation.
The six senators signed a joint letter sent to Secretary Tillerson Saturday saying that Pakistan’s 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 specified that they believe “the State Department should designate Pakistan as a CPC as recommended by the 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 letter said.
The two page long letter further read, “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 perpetrated by terrorist organisations and societal elements with relative impunity. It also said that provincial textbooks with discriminatory content against minorities remain a significant concern.
“It specified that the Frank R Wolf International Religious Freedom Act requires the President to make CPC designations no later than 90 days after the release of the annual report and that Congress be notified no later than 90 days after these designations about the parties responsible for the violations prompting the designations, the actions of the US government has taken in response, and the effectiveness of these actions.
“We, therefore, expect to receive CPC designations by November 13, 2017, and the notification of the responsible parties, actions taken, and the effectiveness of these actions by February 11, 2018.”The news.