The US Department of State Thursday said in a media pressor that the United States has placed Pakistan on a special watch list for severe violations of religious freedom.

According to a press release the State Department said, "In far too many places around the globe, people continue to be persecuted, unjustly prosecuted, or imprisoned for exercising their right to freedom of religion or belief."

It further stated, "Today, a number of governments infringe upon individuals’ ability to adopt, change, or renounce their religion or belief, worship in accordance with their religion or beliefs, or be free from coercion to practice a particular religion or belief.

"In accordance with the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998, the Secretary of State annually designates governments that have engaged in or tolerated systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of religious freedom as 'Countries of Particular Concern'," the handout stated.

"Today, the Department of State announces that the Secretary of State re-designated Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan as Countries of Particular Concern on December 22, 2017. The Secretary also placed Pakistan on a Special Watch List for severe violations of religious freedom.

"The protection of religious freedom is vital to peace, stability, and prosperity. These designations are aimed at improving the respect for religious freedom in these countries. We recognise that several designated countries are working to improve their respect for religious freedom; we welcome these initiatives and look forward to continued dialogue.

"The United States remains committed to working with governments, civil society organisations, and religious leaders to advance religious freedom around the world," it added.

The following move comes after US President Donald Trump on Monday said in a Tweet, the United States has “foolishly” handed Pakistan more than $33 billion in aid over the last 15 years while getting nothing in return, and pledged to put a stop to it.

It was not immediately clear what prompted Trump’s criticism of Pakistan but he has long complained that Islamabad is not doing enough to tackle Islamist militants.

In countering US criticism, Pakistan says it has launched military operations to push out militants from its soil and that 17,000 Pakistanis have died fighting militants or in bombings and other attacks since 2001.