US places Pakistan in special watch list for 'severe violation' of religious freedom

Pakistan police officer stands guard outside St. Patrick's Cathedral ahead of the Christmas celebrations in Karachi. Photograph:( Reuters )

WION Web Team Washington, DC, United States Jan 04, 2018, 04.55 PM (IST)

The Trump administration has placed Pakistan in the special watch list for 'severe violations of religious freedom', US State Department said in a statement.

The State Department also re-designated China, Eritrea, Iran, Myanmar, North Korea, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan as countries of  "countries of particular concern" under the International Religious Freedom Act.

The US said the 10 countries "engaged in or tolerated egregious violations of religious freedom".

"The protection of religious freedom is vital to peace, stability, and prosperity," the State Department said in a statement, adding that the designations were aimed at improving respect for religious freedom in these countries.

US and Pakistan have been involved in a tit-for-tat diplomatic row over terrorism for the past week with President alleging Pakistan engaging in "deceit and lies" in America's war on terror. 

Pakistani officials hit back at the Trump administration with foreign minister Khawaja Asif asserting that the US should conduct an independent audit to find out the money spent on it in fighting terrorism in the AF-Pak region after President Trump said it had given $33 billion in aid to the country.