US State Department spokesperson Ned Price speaking during a press briefing. — file

The United States has called upon the Indian government to uphold its commitment to protecting religious freedom for all.

State Department spokesman Ned Price made these remarks at a weekly press briefing, saying the US engages officials regularly on steps they can take to advance religious freedom.

“This is about religious freedom in South Asia. This is the third year in a row that US commission on religious freedom and other organisations asking, requesting, and demanding US State Department include India into CPC countries. And it’s just not only about torturing or killing of Muslims, Christians, others. It’s also about BJP-led government and Citizenship Act which provides fast-track citizenship to only non-Muslim migrants from Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh,” he was asked.

In response, Ned Price said as the world’s two largest democracies, the United States and India, are also committed to an enduring project.

“This is the project that Secretary Blinken spoke to previously, the project that – as our founders put it – of striving to form a more perfect union. This is a project for both of our countries. We have worked together, and we can work together to show that our democracies can meet our people’s needs. We must continue to hold ourselves to our core values, including respect for human rights like freedom of religion and freedom of belief or expression. That, in turn, makes our respective democracies even stronger.”

Ned Price said that Secretary Blinken, given the totality of the facts and the circumstances, determined that religious freedom concerns in India do not warrant a Country of Particular Concern designation or placement on the Special Watch List. But of course, these are conversations that we continue to have with our Indian partners and with partners around the world, he said.

“When it comes to India, India of course is the world’s largest democracy. It’s home to a great diversity of faiths. Our Annual Report on International Religions Freedom outlines some of the concerns we’ve taken note of when it comes to India, and we continue to carefully monitor the religious freedom situation in all countries and that includes in India. We have encouraged, we will continue to encourage, the Indian Government to uphold its commitments to protect religious freedom for all, and we engage officials regularly on steps they can take to advance religious freedom.”

FAWAD MEETS BLOME: Replying to a question regarding PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry’s meeting with ambassador Donald Blome’s meeting in Islamabad, the State Department’s spokesman said that Donald Lu is in fact the assistant secretary for our Bureau of South and Central Asia at the State Department and he is a senior official at the Department of State.

“It is true that, whether in Pakistan or around the world, we meet with a range of political stakeholders in the course of our work,” he said. 

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