According to a US State Department statement, Pakistan has been retained by the United States on the religious watch list. The US has retained Pakistan among the countries that tolerate religious discrimination.
The countries included or re-designated as “Countries of Particular Concern (CPC)” are includes Myanmar, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan.
Under the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998, the State Department has made these designations. The countries included in the CPC list are called as “having engaged in or tolerated systematic, ongoing, [and] egregious violations of religious freedom”.
Further action can be taken against these countries that include economic sanctions, by the United States.
Also, Comoros, Russia and Uzbekistan are still placed on a Special Watch List (SWL) for governments that have engaged in or tolerated “severe violations of religious freedom”. In this list, Cuba, Nicaragua, Nigeria, and Sudan have been added.
Sudan was moved to the Special Watch List as the civilian-led transitional government took significant steps to address the “systematic, ongoing and egregious violations of religious freedom” by the earlier government.
Countries included by the watch list are those where religious freedom conditions do not rise to the statutory level requiring CPC designation, however, it requires close monitoring because of the nature and extent of violations of religious freedom engaged in or tolerated by the governments.
Al-Nusra Front, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, Al Qaeda, Al-Shabab, Boko Haram, the Houthis, ISIS, ISIS-Khorasan and Taliban as Entities of Particular Concern has been designated by the State Department.
The State Department said, “These designations underscore the United States’ commitment to protect those who seek to exercise their freedom of religion or belief. We believe that everyone, everywhere, at all times, should have the right to live according to the dictates of their conscience.”