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ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has rejected the U.S. State Department’s arbitrary and selective assessment under a domestic legislation on religious freedom.

In a statement, Foreign Office Spokesperson Zahid Hafeez said the designation of Pakistan as a “country of particular concern” is completely against the ground realities and raises serious doubts about the credibility of the exercise. Such subjective designations do not contribute towards promoting the cause of religious freedom worldwide.

The spokesperson said Pakistan and the U.S. have been constructively engaging on the subject at the bilateral level, a fact regrettably overlooked by the U.S.

He said Pakistani society is multi-religious and pluralistic with a rich tradition of inter-faith harmony. Religious freedom and the protection of the rights of minorities are guaranteed by our Constitution and ensured through a range of legislative, policy and administrative measures.

The spokesperson said the glaring omission of India, where the RSS-BJP regime and their leaders openly disregard religious freedom and discriminate against minority communities in an institutionalised manner, is unfortunate and puts the credibility of the U.S. report into question.

He said the state complicity in organized violence against the Muslim minority in India is a matter of record. It is no secret that attacks by cow vigilantes and mob lynchings of Indian Muslims take place regularly, with complete impunity for the perpetrators.

The spokesperson said the findings and recommendations of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom as well as the U.S. Congressional hearings on the maltreatment of minorities in India and the violation of religious freedom all over the country including in the Muslim-majority Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK) were ignored by the U.S. State Department.

The spokesperson said Pakistan’s views in this regard have been conveyed to the U.S. side. He said we believe the redressal of the rising trend of intolerance, discrimination, xenophobia and Islamophobia requires global efforts based on the principles of cooperation and mutual understanding. NNI