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US needs to take notice of violations of religious freedom in India: Shireen Mazari

ISLAMABAD: Minister for Human Rights Dr Shireen Mazari on Wednesday said that the United States should take notice of violations of religious freedom in India and some of its allies that are moving to curtail the religious freedoms of its Muslim citizens.

She said that in our neighborhood we have India where Muslims are being targeted and where the BJP is supporting violence against Muslims ostensibly over “beef”.

According to a statement released from the ministry, Shireen Mazari said that the timing of the US move smacks of pure political blackmailing because it comes in the wake of Pakistan opening the Kartharpur corridor to ease access for the Sikhs of India to their religious places as well as assisting Hindu groups to enter Pakistan for religious purposes when India has sought to prevent Muslims from Pakistan visiting Ajmer for religious purposes.

The minister said that the deliberate ignoring of India’s shrinking space for its religious minorities by the US while it targets Pakistan is absurd and unacceptable.

In case the US is ignorant about the large and diverse presence of Christian churches in Pakistan, the minister said she would like to educate the Trump administration on this count.

Dr. Mazari reminded that Pakistan has moved to allow its non-Muslim citizens their own personal laws of marriage and divorce in keeping with their religious strictures.

Mazari stated , “We have to move forward to further improve the condition of all our citizens including our religious minorities and other vulnerable groups, the US’s move is not based on any facts but is a purely political move in an attempt to pressure on Pakistan to do its bidding.”

She continued that perhaps Trump needs to be reminded of prime minister’s pledge to the Pakistani nation that Pakistan will only act in its own interests and not be a “hired gun” for any other power.

 It is time for the US to take responsibility for its failures in Afghanistan so that it can do a course correction, the minister concluded.

Pakistan exempted from US sanctions

Earlier in the day, the Trump administration had exempted Pakistan from sanctions that affect the countries added to the US annual list of nations that violate religious freedom.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo waived sanctions in the US national interest.

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