Religious minorities in Pakistan have long faced discrimination: US Ambassador-designate
Washington (US): The US Ambassador-designate to Pakistan, Donald Armin Blome, on Tuesday (US local time) said that he will push Islamabad to target all terrorist groups without distinction. "If confirmed, I will press Pakistan to target all terrorist groups without distinction," said Blome. The diplomat was questioned by lawmakers weighing his nomination to become the ambassador to Pakistan. Blome, during his testimony, gave a statement followed by questions from lawmakers of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee is chaired by Sen. Robert Menendez, a Democrat lawmaker from New Jersey, along with only a handful of Democrats and two Republicans. Blome further said that will never shy away from defending human rights in Pakistan, particularly freedom of religion and expression."Religious minorities in Pakistan have long faced discrimination including accusations of blasphemy. The accusations have undermined the rule of law, threatened mob rule and deeply damaged Pakistan's international reputation and have led to many deaths. If confirmed, I will speak out against violations of human rights and religious freedom," said Blome.
He also shared his thoughts on the kidnappings, assaults, and enforced disappearances of Pakistani journalists. "Pakistani journalists and members of civil society face kidnappings, assaults, intimidation and disappearances. I will advocate for expanded protections for freedom of association and assembly, and will meet with civil society partners regularly," added Blome. He further reiterated his support for local groups and individuals who are often courageously leading these fights on the ground."I would certainly use my position to speak publicly along with my engagements at senior levels of the Pakistani government to make clear US government priorities and values with regards to human rights and personal freedoms. Beyond that, I think it's also very important to work with local groups and individuals who are often courageously leading these fights on the ground. And I would look for ways that we can continue to support those groups and strengthen our support for those groups and those voices to make them more effective in leading the movement for change in Pakistan," said Blome.
He also talked about Afghanistan and said that Pakistan has a shared interest in ensuring that the war-torn country does not once again become host to terrorist groups and a contributor to regional instability."Mission Pakistan also plays an important role in encouraging an inclusive Afghan government that respects and promotes the human rights of all individuals, including women and girls, members of minority groups, and ensuring that Afghanistan never again becomes a safe haven for international terrorism," said Blome.
Blome, who is currently the US Ambassador to Tunisia, has served US diplomatic missions in Kabul, Jerusalem, Cairo, Baghdad and Kuwait.