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Hold Pakistan accountable for violations of religious freedom: US Commission


Washington: An independent US commission has asked the State Department to designate Pakistan and seven others as “countries of particular concern,” where governments “engage in or tolerate systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of religious freedom.”

Welcoming the release of State Department’s International Religious Freedom Report, the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) said the next step is to promptly designate the worst violators as CPCs and to press for much-needed reforms in those countries.

The International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 (IRFA) provides a range of options for such action, from bilateral agreements to sanctions, it said noting the IRF Report is required by IRFA, the same law that established USCIRF.

“The just-released IRF Report leaves no doubt that the egregious nature of the violations in Pakistan warrant a CPC designation,” said USCIRF Chairman Robert P. George.

In July 2014, the State Department designated nine nations as CPCs under IRFA: Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.

USCIRF’s 2015 annual report, released in April, recommended that these countries be re-designated as CPCs, and also called for eight additional designations: Central African Republic, Egypt, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan, Syria, Tajikistan, and Vietnam.

“USCIRF urges the State Department to continue the current nine CPC designations,” said George.

“We also urge the State Department to further expand its CPC list to reflect the severe violations occurring in other countries, such as Pakistan, which USCIRF has called the worst situation in the world for religious freedom for countries not currently designated by the US government as CPCs,” he said.

State Department’s 2014 IRF report said Pakistan “government’s general failure to investigate, arrest, or prosecute those responsible for religious freedom abuses promoted an environment of impunity that fostered intolerance and acts of violence, according to domestic and international human rights organizations.”

“Government policies did not afford equal protection to members of minority religious groups, and due to discriminatory legislation such as blasphemy laws and laws designed to marginalise the Ahmadiyya Muslim community, minorities often were afraid to profess freely their religious beliefs,” it said.

(Arun Kumar, IANS)

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Won’t mind crossing border to protect Kashmir: Rajnath

On the issue of terrorism, he said Prime Minister Narendra Modi has succeeded in getting global consensus and managed to bring the international community on board

Mr. Singh mentioned the Indian brotherhood between Hindus and Muslims in India and mentioned strict action against Pakistan terror aids to India in his Kashmir speech
Rajnath Singh went harsh on Pakistan in his Kashmir speech
  • Union minister Rajnath Singh said that Kashmir is India’s
  • He said he’ll cross borders if he has to
  • He also praised Indian army for their services towards the nation

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Saturday said no power in the world can take Kashmir away from India and if need be forced can cross the border to protect the country’s territorial integrity.

“Kashmir is, was and will be ours always. No one can take it from us,” Rajnath Singh said, addressing the CNN News18 Rising India Summit.

Rajnath praises indian army for its services.

He praised the Indian Army for its valour to secure the country and warned Pakistan, saying “we not only secure India within but can also cross the border to protect the country, if needed. No one should take it otherwise.”

He said India wanted good ties with Pakistan, provided it stopped aiding terrorists.

“Now the US is condemning Pakistan. I don’t know what happened to Pakistan. We want good relations with Pakistan but it has refused to accept our offer of friendship.

“Pakistan is giving legitimacy to UN-designated terrorist Hafiz Saeed who is establishing a political party there and wants to contest in elections.”

The Minister said the government was keen on finding a permanent solution to the Kashmir problem and was open to speak to anyone.

To resolve the Kashmir issue, Rajnath Singh said, the government-appointed interlocutor Dineshwar Sharma, a former Intelligence Bureau chief, is moving forward and has invited people from all sections for talks.

Kashmir is ours and ours only, says Rajnath.

He said Kashmir’s children were like his own and would not allow anyone brainwash them into radicalisation.

“I want to tell those who are trying to teach jihad to innocent Kashmiri youths that they should first learn the real concept of jihad in Islam.”

The Minister said he had personally asked Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti to ignore cases filed against the first-time stone-pelters.

Earlier in 2018, the Jammu and Kashmir government withdrew cases registered against 9,730 people involved in stone-pelting incidents, including first-time offenders.

Also Read: A look into the mind of a brainwashed Kashmiri suicide bomber

“We have forgiven first-time stone-pelters. They might have been influenced by others. They are young. We need to give them a second chance,” he said.

The Home Minister said the government never differentiated between the children in Kashmir and those in the other parts of the country.

On the issue of terrorism, he said Prime Minister Narendra Modi has succeeded in getting global consensus and managed to bring the international community on board. Rajnath Singh also highlighted the government’s efforts in dealing with Maoists.

Anything to protect Kashmir: Home minister, Rajnath.

“The battle against Naxals can’t be won through bullets. We are taking several developmental initiatives in this direction. We are trying to reach those areas which have remained unreachable since independence.

“Naxalism was a huge problem for India but in the last four years we have now achieved major success in that space.”