- Iraq: 60 dead in attack on prisoner convoy
- Marco Rubio: U.S. at social, moral crossroads
- ‘We’re coming for you, Barack Obama’: Top U.S. official discloses threat from ISIL
- White flags baffle NYPD: ‘We’re lucky it wasn’t a bomb’
- N.Y. Gov. Cuomo’s office interfered with, pressured corruption commission: report
- Brit lawmaker: I would fire on Israel if I lived in Gaza
- VA apologizes to forgotten Marine veteran locked in Fla. clinic, forced to call 911
- U.S. social and economic trends on worrisome track, survey finds
- McDonald nomination unanimously referred to full Senate
- Chuck Norris honorary chairman of NRA voter registration campaign
Pakistan tops worst list for religious freedom
Question of the Day
Religious freedom is under attack in Pakistan and the situation next door in Afghanistan is not that much better, despite an improvement since the country was ruled by the Taliban, a U.S. government advisory commission said in a report released Tuesday.
“Pakistan represents the worst situation in the world for religious freedom for countries not currently designated as ‘countries of particular concern’ by the U.S. government,” the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom said in its annual report. “The government of Pakistan continues to engage in and tolerate systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of freedom of religion or belief.”
The report found that violations reached unprecedented levels because of growing incidents of sectarian violence against Shiite Muslims. The government also failed to protect Christians, Ahmadis and Hindus, it said.
“The U.S. naming Pakistan as a country of particular concern would bring these challenges to the forefront of the U.S.-Pakistani bilateral relationship and hopefully move Pakistan to make concrete improvements,” Mr. Thames said.
Because the commission’s role is advisory, the State Department is under no obligation to enforce its recommendations.
The report says Pakistan’s anti-blasphemy law is often used to intimidate religious minorities.
Pakistan’s ambassador to the U.S., Sherry Rehman, is the subject of an anti-blasphemy lawsuit.
The law, which came into effect during the dictatorship of Gen. Zia ul Haq in the 1980s, prescribes the death penalty for those perceived to have insulted Islam or Prophet Muhammad.
While the government has not carried out any death sentences, extremists often take it upon themselves to execute those accused in blasphemy cases.
In 2011, two prominent Pakistanis — Shahbaz Bhatti, a Catholic and Cabinet minister for minorities, and Salmaan Taseer, governor of Pakistan’s Punjab province — were assassinated for their criticism of the blasphemy law.
A Pakistani Embassy spokesman in Washington did not comment on the report.
“However, comparisons to the abusive actions of the Taliban provide an incomplete and misleading picture,” the report says. “Dissenting members of the majority faith and minority religious communities continue to face significant restrictions on the free practice of religion. Governmental and non-state actors have taken action against individuals for activity deemed to be ‘un-Islamic.’”
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Ashish Kumar Sen is a reporter covering foreign policy and international developments for The Washington Times.
Prior to joining The Times, Mr. Sen worked for publications in Asia and the Middle East. His work has appeared in a number of publications and online news sites including the British Broadcasting Corp., Asia Times Online and Outlook magazine.
- Boko Haram takes credit for abduction of Nigerian schoolgirls, threatens to sell them
- Al Qaeda core degraded, but 'more aggressive' affiliates still pose threat to U.S.
- Political uncertainty and violence in first Iraqi election since U.S. withdraw
- Egypt judge sentences 683 Islamists to death over Morsi-tied violence
- Doctor's killing in latest Afghanistan attack puts NGOs in crosshairs
TWT Video Picks
The subsidies are a hit with patients who don't exist
- Obama orders Pentagon advisers to Ukraine
- House task force to recommend National Guard on border, faster deportations
- EDITORIAL: Poor Hillary, rock-star wannabe
- Netanyahu's Wikipedia page replaced with giant Palestinian flag
- Hamas rejects Kerry's call for cease-fire; Hezbollah in Syria could join fight against Israel
- Hamas orders civilians to die in Israeli airstrikes
- Democratic Sen. John Walsh plagiarized War College master's thesis: report
- CARSON: Costco and the perils of mixing politics and business
- FIELDS: A tale of a boy, a Bible and a gun
- 'We're coming for you, Barack Obama': Top U.S. official discloses threat from ISIL terrorists
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world
Fighting in Iraq