New York. June 26, 2019.

As usual the Council of Foreign Relation’s Annual Banquet was filled with pomp and furies. It is an opportunity to meet and greet eminent scholars and activists in the field of international Religious Freedom. Most importantly is a five minute private exchange with the Ambassador Samuel Dale Brownback. Ambassador Brownback is an American attorney, politician, diplomat and member of the Republican Party who has served as the  United States Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom since February 2018. Brownback previously served as the Secretary of Agriculture of Kansas (1986–93), as the U.S. Representative for Kansas (1995–96), as a U. S. Senator from Kansas (1996–2011) and the 46th Governor of Kansas (2011–18). He also ran for the Republican nomination for President in 2008. Mr Brownback is the Administration‘s lead person implementing policy on International Religious Freedom. We had a very candid exchange about religious freedom in India under the current BJP government and decided to interact further on the matter by opening a channel of communication with his office. We also touched on Pakistan‘s dismal record on protecting religious rights of the minorities and Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh. The next meeting will be scheduled around the next round table conference In Washington DC.

( Father Joseph Varghese, Executive Director, IRFT)