WASHINGTON: The Annual Religious Freedom Report released by the Trump administration on Tuesday says religious persecution continues to grow against minorities in Pakistan.
The report quoted data collected through the civil society organizations (CSOs). It particularly mentioned Abdul Wali Khan University case where a mob shot and beat to death student Mashal Khan, “following an accusation of blasphemy later deemed by investigators to be false, which prompted widespread condemnation in the country.”
Releasing the report at the State department, Secretary Mike Pompeo said the document was critical to “our mission to defend our religious liberty. The report stressed that authorities often fail to intervene in instances of societal violence against religious minorities, and police often fail to arrest perpetrators of such abuses.
The report also mentioned the South Asia Terrorism Portal, saying that 231 persons were killed and 691 injured in 16 incidents of sectarian violence during the year. “Civil society groups expressed ongoing concerns about the safety of religious minorities and urged the government to fully implement its National Action Plan to combat terrorism, as well as the Supreme Court’s June 2014 order regarding protection for members of religious minority groups.”
It’s pertinent to mention that in December last year, the Trump administration had placed Pakistan on a Special Watch List for having engaged in or tolerated severe violations of religious freedom.
The report also slammed abuses in India under the Modi government. “Out of 29 states, eight have legislation restricting religious conversions, with laws in force in five of those states,” it said adding that authorities often did not prosecute violence by vigilantes against persons, mostly Muslims, suspected of slaughtering or illegally transporting cows or trading in or consuming beef. “Under the current government, religious minority communities felt increasingly vulnerable due to Hindu nationalist groups engaging in violence against non-Hindu individuals and their places of worship.”
It also highlighted that ethnic cleansing targeting Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar had not stopped despite growing condemnation from the international community. In November, the United States declared that violence against the Rohingya constituted ethnic cleansing, after which it imposed sanctions. The report estimates that about 680,000 people fled Myanmar to Bangladesh to escape violence.