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Pakistan In U.S. Blacklist For Religious Freedom Violations

Russia has increasingly drawn concern in the United States over its treatment of Jehovah's Witnesses

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Pakistan, Religious Freedom
Members and supporters of the Muslim Student Organization (MSO) chant slogans during a protest after the Supreme Court overturned the conviction of a Christian woman sentenced to death for blasphemy against Islam, in Islamabad, Pakistan. VOA

The United States said Tuesday it has added Pakistan to its blacklist of countries that violate religious freedom, ramping up pressure over its treatment of minorities.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he had designated Pakistan among “countries of particular concern” in a congressionally mandated annual report, meaning the U.S. government is obliged to exert pressure to end freedom violations.

Pompeo a year earlier had placed Pakistan on a special watch list – a step short of the designation – in what had been seen as a U.S. tactic to press Islamabad into reforms.

Human rights advocates have long voiced worry about the treatment of minorities in Pakistan, including Shiites, Ahmadis and Christians.

Sikh, Religious Freedom
A Sikh pilgrim visits the shrine of their spiritual leader Guru Nanak Dev in Kartarpur, Pakistan. VOA

But the timing of the full designation may be jarring as it comes after Pakistan moved to resolve its most high-profile case, with the Supreme Court in October releasing Asia Bibi – a Christian woman on death row for eight years for blasphemy.

The government recently charged a hardline cleric, Khadim Hussain Rizvi, with terrorism and sedition after he led violent protests against Bibi’s acquittal.

“In far too many places across the globe, individuals continue to face harassment, arrests or even death for simply living their lives in accordance with their beliefs,” Pompeo said in a statement.

“The United States will not stand by as spectators in the face of such oppression,” he said.

Nine countries remained for another year on the list of Countries of Particular Concern – China, Eritrea, Iran, Myanmar, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan.

pakistan,Sikh, Religious Freedom
Pakistani activist and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai, center, arrives along with her father Ziauddin Yousafzai, second left, brother Atal Yousafzai, left, and the principal of all-boys Swat Cadet College Guli Bagh, during her hometown visit, March 31, 2018. VOA

The United States removed one country from the list – Uzbekistan– but kept it on the watch list.

Pompeo also put on the watch list Russia, adding another item of contention to the relationship between the two powers.

Also Read: The Hindu Temple of Gulyana and Sikh Samadhi in Pakistan

Russia has increasingly drawn concern in the United States over its treatment of Jehovah’s Witnesses, the heterodox Christian group known for proselytization.

Also on the watch list was the Comoros, the Indian Ocean archipelago that is almost exclusively Sunni Muslim. (VOA)

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India-Pakistan Trade Suspension Leaves 2,500 Labourers Unemployed

The report says these daily wagers from rural areas of both the sides of Wagah and Attari border are stressed due to trade suspension

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According to a report of 'Express News', around 1,000 labourers of Pakistan and 1,500 in India, who used to haul the trucks on both sides are now unemployed after trade was suspended between the countries. Pixabay

The India-Pakistan trade suspension amid increasing tension over Kashmir issue has left at least 2,500 labourers unemployed at Wagah and Attari border.

According to a report of ‘Express News’, around 1,000 labourers of Pakistan and 1,500 in India, who used to haul the trucks on both sides are now unemployed after trade was suspended between the countries.

The report says these daily wagers from rural areas of both the sides of Wagah and Attari border are stressed due to trade suspension.

Labourers, India, Pakistan
The India-Pakistan trade suspension amid increasing tension over Kashmir issue has left at least 2,500 labourers unemployed at Wagah and Attari border. Pixabay

“We have not earned anything for the last one week. All our small savings are exhausted. We used to earn Rs 1,000-Rs 1,500 per day by loading/unloading the trucks,” a labourer is quoted as saying.

Also Read- Fish Oil Pills have Little or No Effect on Risk of Type 2 Diabetes

The coolies at Wagah railway station too are unemployed following suspension of Samjhauta trans-border train, the report said. (IANS)