Karachi, Aug. 12 : The U.S. State Department's annual report on International Religious Freedom has expressed concern at the increase in the number of blasphemy cases in Pakistan and the use of such charges as "justification for mob justice" in the country.
The report pointed out that the armed sectarian groups connected to banned terror organisations continued to stage attacks on Christians and Shias, including the predominantly Shia Hazara community, reports the Express Tribune.
It added that incidents of forced conversions have also continued. The reports which was released on Wednesday report takes a comprehensive look at the situation in more than 200 countries in 2015.
Noting that several individuals were arrested by the police on charges of blasphemy, it said that that numerous individuals involved in well-publicised blasphemy cases from previous years including Sawan Masih, Shafqat Emmanuel, Shagufta Kausar, and Liaquat Ali remained in jail awaiting appeal.
The reports also quoted data provided by civil society organisations, saying three new cases under the blasphemy laws were registered during 2015, down from 12 cases in 2014.
It added that, as per the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), more than 40 people remain on death row for blasphemy in Pakistan.