Should Pakistan be Designated a “Country of Particular Concern” for its Religious Freedom Violations?
Posted on | June 6, 2015 | No Comments
In an article release on NationalInterest.org, two women representing the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) discussed the need for Pakistan to be designated a “Country of Particular Concern” (CPC) . Pakistan, which is widely recognized as one of the most religiously intolerant countries on the planet, has continued to avoid being designated as a CPC despite it notorious reputation. After a recent fact finding trip to Pakistan, the women representing USCIRF have called on the State Department to designate Pakistan a CPC and have explained the positive changes the designation would yield. So, why hasn’t Pakistan been designated as a CPC?
6/5/2015 Pakistan (Christian Daily) – Two women representing the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) are calling for Pakistan to be designated a “country of particular concern” due to their harsh blasphemy laws that are often enforced on religious minorities.
Katrina Lantos Swett, chairwoman of the USCIRF, and Mary Ann Glendon discussed on NationalInterest.org their visit to Pakistan, where they met with high-level government officials. Their visit reaffirmed their belief that Pakistan’s blasphemy laws have become a serious concern within the country and need to be reformed.
“Why is there rarely any accountability in Pakistan for killing people accused of blasphemy? Why are law enforcement officials not held responsible for failing to apprehend the killers? And what, if anything, can the United States and the world community do about it,” they wrote in their blog.
“The blasphemy law on its face flatly violates both freedom of religion and freedom of expression. Worse still, Pakistan vigorously applies this law.”
In the Islam-dominated country, many religious minorities, including Christians, face severe punishment for committing blasphemy against Islam.
“Consequently, we remain convinced that the State Department should designate Pakistan a ‘country of particular concern’ for its continued record of failure in protecting religious freedom.”
This designation would enable the United States to employ sanctions against Pakistan for its religious freedom violations.
In addition to this, the two feel that the United States can take action to work with Pakistan to provide protection for those who are persecuted for their faith in the country.
“For instance, creating a new avenue for U.S.-Pakistani engagement would strengthen Pakistani institutions that seek to help religious minorities,” they suggested.
In Pakistan, it is illegal to set fire to religious text and can be punishable by the nation’s blasphemy laws that lead to the death penalty. However, “vigilante mobs” tend to take matters into their own hands.
Last year, a Pakistani Christian couple were brutally beaten and burned to death by an angry mob who accused them of blasphemy.