The list consists of nations that the Secretary of State identifies as "countries of particular concern" for having "engaged in or tolerated systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of religious freedom." The list is prepared in accordance with the International Religious Freedom Act, 1998.
Pakistan has reportedly allowed for "systemic, egregious" violations of religious freedom since 2002, sparking global concern.
The US Department of State spokesperson, Heather Nauert said that "around the globe, people continue to be persecuted, unjustly prosecuted, or imprisoned for exercising their right to freedom of religion or belief."
"The designations are aimed at improving respect for religious freedom in these countries," she added.