Pakistan has rejected America’s decision to designate it as one of the “countries of part¬ic¬ular concern” (CPC) under its International Religious Freedom Act.

The Pakistani Foreign Office branded the decision an “arbitrary and selective assessment”.

It raised questions about the credibility of the commission’s process, saying the designation – announced by Secre¬t¬a¬ry of State Mike Pompeo – was against the realities on the ground.

In a statement the Foreign Office said it regretted that the United States had overlooked the “fact that Pakistan and the US have been constructively engaging on the subject at the bilateral level”.

Other countries added to the list included China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, Turk¬m¬enistan, Nigeria, Nor¬th Korea, Myanmar and Eritrea as CPCs, saying they engaged in or tolerated “systematic, ongoing, egregious violations of religious freedom”.

The Foreign Office said: “Pakistani society is multi-religious and pluralistic with a rich tradition of inter-faith harmony”.

The commission’s 2020 report noted that religious freedom conditions across Pakistan had continued to trend negatively.

It said the country’s systematic enforcement of blasphemy and anti-Ahmadia laws, as well as the failure of the authorities to address forced conversions of religious minorities to Islam, “severely restricted freedom of religion or belief”.

The report noted that nearly 80 individuals remained imprisoned for blasphemy in Pakistan, but also recognised a number of high-profile acquittals in the country.