Washington: The United States Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo told Pakistan to release 40 people belonging to the minority community who are currently languishing in Pakistani prisons under the draconian blasphemy laws.
His statements garner significance as he is due to visit India on 25 June.
Pompeo also supports the appointment of an envoy to look into the religious freedom in Pakistan. He was speaking at a function in Washington where the annual report of International Religious Freedom of the State Department for 2018 was released.
During his speech he mentioned a Pakistani Christian Catholic, Asia Bibi, who was facing a death sentence after being in prison for ten years. However, the Supreme Court of Pakistan acquitted her and thus her life was saved.
The 40 Pakistani citizens imprisoned in prison for blasphemy charges are serving their jail sentences or awaiting their time for execution.
Mike Pompeo said, “We continue to seek their release and exhort the government to appoint an envoy to address the various religious freedom concerns,”
The Islamic nation has a history of anti-minority crimes and the minorities live in a constant state of fear and intimidation. In 2018, Pakistan was in the ‘Special Watch List’ of International Religious Freedom over the crumbling religious tolerance and freedom. In 2019, the nation moved to the ‘Countries of Particular Concern’ category.
Recently, Pakistan was in the news when two minor Hindu girls were abducted, forced to convert to Islam and married of to Muslim men who were already married. These kinds of forced conversions are common in the Islamic nation.
While India after 2014 was labelled as ‘intolerant’ by left leaning intellectuals, they have been more or less silent when news of blatant anti-minority attacks comes from Pakistan. Interestingly, there was support for Pakistan from these quarters during the Balakot air strikes and the stand-off of between India and Pakistan concerning Wing Commander, Abhinandan Varthaman.