Pakistan has been placed on a special watch list for “severe violations of religious freedom”, by the United States.

The US State Department said the protection of religious freedom is vital to peace, stability, and prosperity, and that the US remains committed to working with governments, civil society organizations, and religious leaders to advance religious freedom around the world.

It also said that in far too many places around the globe, people continue to be persecuted, unjustly prosecuted, or imprisoned for exercising their right to freedom of religion or belief.

It recognised that a number of governments infringe upon individuals’
ability to adopt, change, or renounce their religion or belief, worship in accordance with their religion or beliefs, or be free from coercion to practice a particular religion or belief.

Being on the watch list means Pakistan is one step away from being included in the “Countries of Particular Concern” list.

The statement also re-designated Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan as “Countries of Particular Concern” .