Myanmar stays on U.S. list of nations accused of violating religious freedom

Myanmar stays on U.S. list of nations accused of violating religious freedom

Myanmar stays on U.S. list of nations accused of violating religious freedom

China, Eritrea, Iran, Myanmar, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan are accused of having "engaged in or tolerated systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of religious freedom".

"The Secretary also placed Pakistan on a Special Watch List for severe violations of religious freedom", the statement added.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson placed Pakistan on a watch list for "severe violations of religious freedom", the State Department announced Thursday.

The State Department announced that it's placing the South Asian nation on a special watch list, pursuant to 2016 legislation.

"It is surprising that countries that have a well-known record of systematic persecution of religious minorities have not been included in the list", the statement added. Pakistan was the only country in the new category. Dozens of people have faced death or imprisonment under the country's blasphemy law, while sectarian violence continues to grow.

After President Trump's lashed out at Pakistan in his first tweet of the year for the country's failure to act decisively to counter-terrorism and accused it of playing a double game, the USA state department formally announced a halt in aid and security assistance to Pakistan.

Pakistan said on Friday that it "rejects the USA designation" and that the report is "not based on objective criteria". They make up around 1.6 percent of Pakistan's population.

Washington confirmed it will withhold 255 million dollars in U.S. military aid to Pakistan this year, a threat first issued last August when Trump announced his Afghan policy, which took aim at Pakistan and demanded an end to Islamabad's alleged support for the Afghan Taliban.

US Permanent Representative to the United Nations Nikki Haley also said Washington would withhold Dollars 255 million in assistance to Pakistan.

In a seething series of tweets, Pakistan's foreign minister ripped into Trump's accusation that Islamabad has double-crossed the USA in Afghanistan, noting that Pakistan "went through a bloodbath after blindly trusting Washington".

"It, however, needs to be appreciated that Pakistan has fought the war against terrorism largely from its own resources which has cost over $120bn in 15 years", the statement said. "Arbitrary deadlines, unilateral pronouncements and shifting goalposts are counterproductive in addressing common threats".

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