US places Pakistan on watch list for religious freedom violations

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. State Department has placed Pakistan on a special watch list for ?severe violations of religious freedom,? it said on Thursday, days after the White House said Islamabad would have to do more to combat terrorism to receive U.S. aid.

The State Department also said it had re-designated 10 other nations as ?countries of particular concern? under the International Religious Freedom Act for having engaged in or tolerated egregious violations of religious freedom.

The re-designated countries were China, Eritrea, Iran, Myanmar, North Korea, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. They were re-designated on Dec. 22.

?The protection of religious freedom is vital to peace, stability, and prosperity,? the department said in a statement. ?These designations are aimed at improving the respect for religious freedom in these countries.?

President Donald Trump has criticized Pakistan for not doing more to combat terrorism. Pakistan has said it is already doing a lot to fight militants.