Days after US President Donald Trump criticised Pakistan for not doing enough to combat terror, Washington has placed Islamabad on a "special watch list" for "severe violations of religious freedom".
The announcement came as Secretary of State Rex Tillerson decided to re-designate about 10 nations as 'countries of particular concern'.
"Too many places around the globe, people continue to be persecuted, unjustly prosecuted, or imprisoned for exercising their right to freedom of religion or belief," state department spokesperson Heather Nauert said.
"Today, the Department of State announces that the Secretary of State re-designated Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan as countries of particular concern (CPC) on December 22, 2017," Nauert said.
The US Commission on International Religious Freedom has been advocating for designating Pakistan as a CPC since 2002. It has argued that the government of Pakistan continues "to perpetrate and tolerate systematic, ongoing, and egregious religious freedom violations. Religiously discriminatory constitutional provisions and legislation, such as the country's blasphemy and anti-Ahmadiyya laws, continue to result in prosecutions and imprisonments".
Earlier, the Pew Research Center said that over an eight-year period Pakistan is one of a small group of countries that "stand out as having the most restrictions on religion ... when both government restrictions and religious hostilities are taken into account".
As you are no doubt aware, Swarajya is a media product that is directly dependent on support from its readers in the form of subscriptions. We do not have the muscle and backing of a large media conglomerate nor are we playing for the large advertisement sweep-stake.
Our business model is you and your subscription. And in challenging times like these, we need your support now more than ever.
We deliver over 10 - 15 high quality articles with expert insights and views. From 7AM in the morning to 10PM late night we operate to ensure you, the reader, get to see what is just right.
Becoming a Patron or a subscriber for as little as Rs 1200/year is the best way you can support our efforts.