Shireen Mazari expresses surprise at US decision to add Pakistan in the Blacklist for religious freedom violations

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Islamabad: Dr Shireen Mazari expressed surprise at the US Administration’s decision to add Pakistan to the “blacklist for religious freedom violations”. She said it was apparent the US was using this as a brazen political tactic to pressure Pakistan to mitigate US failures in Afghanistan. The timing of this move reflects this most clearly.
Dr Mazari stated that there is no doubt Pakistan’s record on religious freedom is not ideal but then is the EU’s record much better given the restrictions on churches, the banning of certain dress codes of Muslims, refusal of entry of certain preachers – the list continues.
The timing of the US move smacks of pure political blackmailing because it comes in the wake of Pakistan opening the Kartharpur corridor to ease access for the Sikhs of India to their religious places as well as assisting Hindu groups to enter Pakistan for religious purposes when India has sought to prevent Muslims from Pakistan visiting Ajmer for religious purposes. The deliberate ignoring of India’s shrinking space for its religious minorities by the US while it targets Pakistan is absurd and unacceptable.
In case the US is ignorant about the large and diverse presence of Christian churches in Pakistan, the Human Rights Minister said she would like to educate the Trump Administration on this count. At the moment the following diverse denominations of Christian churches are present in Pakistan: Catholic, Methodist, Anglican, Lutheran, Baptist, Presbyterian, Pentecostal (3 separate groups under this church), Evangelical, Renewalist, Salvation Army and then as a separate entity Church of Pakistan directly linked to Archbishop of Canterbury.

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