ISLAMABAD -  Pakistan has asked the United States why India was not on Washington’s ‘special watch list on the issue of religious freedom’ despite unending bloodshed in held Kashmir and grave violation of minorities’ rights, diplomatic sources said.

Senior officials at the foreign ministry told The Nation that Pakistan had presented its case to the US, challenging the ‘discriminatory’ watch list.

“If someone has to be put on that list, it is India. They are the ones who have been killing the Kashmiris and butchering the minorities. We have urged the US not to turn a blind eye to India,” said one official.

He added: “We have sent details on the bloodshed in Kashmir (to the US). This includes pictures, videos and stories. We (Pakistan) have been put on the watch list just because we are not fulfilling the US demands anymore.”

Another official said that Washington had told Islamabad the ‘watch list’ was not designed to target Pakistan. “This is not a pressure tactics. It only aims to improve the human rights,” he said quoting officials from Washington.

The official said Pakistan and the US had “not lost contact” and efforts were on to improve the relationship.

Last month, the US state department added Pakistan to a special watch list on the issue of religious freedom. Earlier, the US suspended security assistance to Pakistan targeting the Coalition Support Funds.

This week, Pakistan’s ambassador to the US Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhry said the US must acknowledge the steps Pakistan had taken for protection of human rights and rights of religious freedom. In a statement, he had said Islamabad was seeking a clarification from the US on the watch list. “We have noted the announcement by the State Department about placement of Pakistan on a Special Watch List. Pakistan is seeking a clarification from the US about its rationale and implications,” he added.

He underscored that wide-ranging legislative, institutional and administrative measures were taken by Pakistan which were geared to ensuring full coverage of guarantees afforded by the Constitution. The foreign ministry this month also questioned the US designation of Pakistan in the “Special Watch List for severe violations of religious freedom.”

The foreign ministry said the report was not based on objective criteria. “This placement on a special watch list is a new categorization and we would be seeking clarification from the US regarding its rationale and implications,” Foreign Office spokesperson Dr Mohammed Faisal said.

He condemned the atrocities in Kashmir Pakistan and the victimization of the Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar. He said Hurriyat leadership Syed Ali Gilani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Mohammad Yasin Malik and Shabbir Ahmad Shah, Massarat Alam Bhat, Aasiya Andrabi, Fehmeeda Sofi and more than 800 defenceless Kashmiris including students were languishing in different jails of occupied Kashmir, against all the human rights.

Meanwhile yesterday, the Pakistan People’s Party said US President Donald Trump “may be mad” but there was also “method in his madness.” Speaking at a seminar on Pak-US relation organised by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute, PPP Senator Farhatullah Babar said instead of responding angrily Pakistan should give a calculated, measured and methodical response.

Babar reminded that Trump’s New Year tweet was preceded by an announcement of new rules of engagement, of ‘unilateral action’ and resumption of drone strikes. “The suspension of all security assistance on January 5 was, therefore, no surprise,” he said.

“Pakistan’s response of alternately waving olive branch and brandishing threats is not policy but dithering,” he said. “The December 4 military statement expressing readiness to look into the possibility of miscreants and the seizing of assets of affiliated charities of militant organisations may have been positive but have not been backed by concrete policy measures.”

He said the hurriedly called meeting of National Command Authority after nearly two years to reaffirm yet again “full spectrum nuclear deterrence” just on the eve of Vice President Mike Pence visit to Kabul on December 22 seemed like brandishing nuclear weapons.

“The tendency to overplay the cards of ‘weapons of mass destruction’ and thoughtless threats to send back Afghan refugees or ‘weapon of mass migration’ should be eschewed. Aid suspension is not a big issue and it is déjà vu (already seen). The steep decline in relations is the issue,” the lawmaker said.

The PPP leader said the $ 33 billion over a period of 15 years touted by Trump amounts to no more than 5 months of Pakistan’s national budget. “Aid was suspended after the 1965 war with India. Jimmy Carter suspended all aid in 1979 for nuclear enrichment. Aid was substantially cut in 1990 under Pressler Amendment. In 1993 the USAID offices in Pakistan were closed for nearly 8 years and after 1998 nuclear tests US aid was totally stopped,” he said.

The US tilt towards India, he said, began since March 2000 when former US President Bill Clinton spent five days in India and just five hours in Pakistan during which he played “Holi (festival of colours)” in India but in Pakistan, warned “terrorism would eventually destroy Pakistan from within.”

Clinton and not Trump forged this new relationship built upon by subsequent US administrations, he maintained. Babar said the total rupture with the US will make Pakistan’s reliance on China perilously one-sided.

About contradictions, he said, Pakistan denies the existence of sanctuaries and on the other “we say that we do not want to bring Afghan war into Pakistan. If Afghan Taliban are not in Pakistan how will the fight against them enter Pakistan.”

The Senator said Pakistan seeks addresses of the Afghan Taliban in Pakistan and on the other does not investigate as to who the identity card to Mullah Mansoor Akhtar.