The State Department released its most recent International Religious Freedom Report, which includes a list of Countries of Particular Concern (CPCs). That list is Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Uzbekistan and Turkemnistan (the first addition to the list in years). The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom wonders why the hell Pakistan is not on that list.
The list of “countries of particular concern” had remained unchanged since 2006 — and hasn’t been formally issued by the State Department since 2011 — when Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Uzbekistan were cited.
In April, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom recommended that the list be doubled to include Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Vietnam, Pakistan, Syria, Iraq, Nigeria and Egypt. Turkmenistan was the only new addition to this year’s CPC list, bringing the total to nine countries.
The State Department and the independent USCIRF have often been at odds on who makes the list of worst offenders, and in a statement, USCIRF noted the “disappointing omission” of Pakistan in particular.
“Pakistan represents the worst situation in the world for religious freedom for countries not currently designated by the U.S. government as CPCs,” said USCIRF Chair Katrina Lantos Swett.
The USCIRF is absolutely right. And I’d add Russia to that list as well, along with nearly all of the countries on the Arabian peninsula (all have harsh blasphemy or apostasy laws). I can’t really imagine what the criteria are for making this list if Pakistan is not on it.