By Aamir Latif
The United States has waived off sanctions on Pakistan that are expected to hit countries that violate religious freedom of citizens, a U.S. embassy official said Wednesday.
“The U.S Secretary of State has given a waiver to Pakistan in connection with the list of countries that violate religious freedom. That means, there will be no sanctions on Pakistan," said Richard Snelsire, spokesman of the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad.
However, Islamabad has not been removed from the list, he told Anadolu Agency.
Washington demoted Islamabad's religious freedom ranking on Tuesday along with Myanmar, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan.
Comoros, Russia, and Uzbekistan were placed on the special watch list for violations of religious freedom.
The country of particular concern (CPC) list was created from the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998, enacted by Congress as a foreign policy tool to raise awareness about religious freedom violations around the globe.
Pakistan early on Wednesday rejected the U.S. move calling it “unilateral” and “politically motivated”.
Around 4 percent of Pakistan’s 200 million-plus population is made up of minority Christians, Hindus, Buddhists, and Sikhs.
The country’s parliament has special seats reserved for minorities to ensure their adequate representation and voice in the legislative process.