11:01 GMT23 January 2021
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    A Pakistani diplomatic source told Sputnik that Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs summoned a senior US official on Wednesday and handed over a demarche while making it clear that Pakistan doesn’t need any lectures on ensuring religious freedom for minorities.

    After criticising a religious freedom report on Wednesday morning, Pakistan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs summoned US officials later in the day in Islamabad to lodge a strong protest after secretary of State Michael Pompeo designated Pakistan as one of the "Countries of Particular Concern under the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998".

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    Pakistan issued a formal statement saying the report is politically motivated and completely ignored the steps the Pakistani administration has taken in the recent past to maintain religious equality in the country. Questioning the motive behind the report, Pakistan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated that Pakistan rejects the US State Department's unilateral pronouncement released today in the context of its annual religious freedom report.

    "Besides the clear biases reflected from these designations, there are serious questions on the credentials and impartiality of the self proclaimed jury involved in this unwarranted exercise", Pakistan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.

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    US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo designated Myanmar, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Pakistan, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan, as "Countries of Particular Concern under the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 for having engaged in or tolerated systematic, ongoing, [and] egregious violations of religious freedom". Washington also placed Comoros, Russia, and Uzbekistan on a Special Watch List for governments.




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