US downgrades Pakistan in religious freedom rankings

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump administration has placed Pakistan on its list of worst offenders for nations that infringe on religious freedom.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says he added Pakistan to its list of “countries of particular concern” regarding protection for people to worship according to their beliefs. Pakistan had previously been on a special watch list for religious freedom. The downgrade means that Pakistan could be hit with U.S. sanctions although such penalties have generally been waived.

Other countries on the blacklist released Tuesday include China, Eritrea, Iran, Myanmar, North Korea, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan. They’re accused of systematic, ongoing egregious violations of religious freedom.

Uzbekistan had previously been designated as an offender, but Pompeo upgraded it to the watch list. That list also includes Comoros and Russia.

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