Pakistan country of concern

The country has institutionalized discrimination

A number of influential United States Senators have recommended that Pakistan be designated – 'country of particular concern'. The reason for this recommendation is that the country has recorded a number of violations of its religious freedom. The list of Senators backing this recommendation includes Marco Rubio, the Republican elected from Florida, and former presidential candidate, Todd Young, a Republican from Indiana, and James Lankford, a Republican from Oklahoma. The group is bipartisan, with Senator Chris Coons from Delaware, Jeff Merkley from Oregon, and Bob Menendez from New Jersey signing the letter. All three are elected Democrats. They urged Rex Tillerson, the Secretary of State, to utilize all tools available to him to make sure that religious freedom is followed in Pakistan and in accordance with American foreign policy.

The signatories of the letter stated that Pakistan should be designated as CPC by the State Department. The Pakistani Government continues to tolerate and also perpetrate egregious, systematic, and ongoing violations of religious freedom. The country has discriminatory laws and constitutional provisions. These include the nation's anti-Ahmadiyya and blasphemy measures. Such institutionalized discrimination results in the imprisonment of people solely due to their faith or unjustly prosecuting them due to various means.

In present-day Pakistan, the letter said about 40 people are presently serving life sentences or given a death sentence for blasphemy. The list of persecuted religious minorities includes Ahmadis, Shi'a Muslims, Hindus, and Christians. These communities are done by a number of societal elements and terrorist organizations with no fear of state punishment. The signatories pointed out that provincial education system is compromised by the presence of discriminatory content stacked against minorities. These remain significant concerns.

The letter sent by the Senators mention Frank R. Wolf International Religious Freedom Act. This particular legislation compels the U.S. President to make the CPC designations before 90 days post the publication of the yearly report. Congress must also be notified before 90 days post these designations about parties responsible for violations, the actions taken by the United States Government, and the effectiveness of such actions.

The letter thus states that its signatories expect to receive the CPC designations within November 13, 2017. And the notification of such responsible parties, and the actions taken as a result, along with the effectiveness of such actions within February 11, 2018. The letter said that the U.S. believes in promoting religious belief and a higher moral ground. 

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