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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 September 2018

US places Pakistan on watch list for religious freedom violations

A US flag is burnt during an anti-US protest in Quetta, Pakistan. Pakistan has summoned the US ambassador to explain a tweet by Mr Trump that said the United States had been foolish in dispensing aid to Islamabad.JAMAL TARAQAI
A US flag is burnt during an anti-US protest in Quetta, Pakistan. Pakistan has summoned the US ambassador to explain a tweet by Mr Trump that said the United States had been foolish in dispensing aid to Islamabad.JAMAL TARAQAI

The US State Department has placed Pakistan on a special watch list for “severe violations of religious freedom,” it said on Thursday, days after the White House said Islamabad would have to do more to combat terrorism to receive US aid.

The State Department also said it had re-designated 10 other nations as “countries of particular concern” under the International Religious Freedom Act for having engaged in or tolerated egregious violations of religious freedom.

The re-designated countries include China, Iran, Myanmar and North Korea. They were re-designated on December 22.

Read more: Trump administration prepares to withhold $255 million in aid to Pakistan

“The protection of religious freedom is vital to peace, stability, and prosperity,” the department said in a statement. “These designations are aimed at improving the respect for religious freedom in these countries.”

US President Donald Trump has criticised Pakistan for not doing more to combat terrorism, and his administration has informed members of Congress that it will announce plans to end “security assistance” payments to the country.

Pakistan has said it is already doing a lot to fight militants, and summoned the US ambassador to explain a tweet by Mr Trump that said the United States had been foolish in dispensing aid to Islamabad.

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