Pakistan rejects 'baseless inclusion' in US Child Soldiers Prevention Act List: FO

Pakistan rejects 'baseless inclusion' in US Child Soldiers Prevention Act List: FO

Islamabad (Web Desk): Pakistan has categorically rejected the inclusion of its name in the US State Department's "Child Soldiers Prevention Act (CSPA) List".

In a statement, Foreign Office (FO) Spokesperson Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri said we categorically reject the unsubstantiated and baseless inclusion of Pakistan in the "Child Soldiers Prevention Act List" - published under a domestic US legislation - in the US State Department's Annual Trafficking in Persons Report 2021.

“Pakistan does not support any non-state armed group; nor any entity recruiting or using child soldiers. Pakistan's efforts in fighting non-state armed groups including terrorist entities are well recognised,” the statement said.

The FO spokesperson said that the inclusion of Pakistan in the "CSPA List" depicts a factual error and lack of understanding.

He added that no state institution was consulted by the US prior to the publication of the report and that neither were any details provided which led to the country’s inclusion in the list.

“Overall, on the issue of Trafficking in Persons, Pakistan is committed to fighting this scourge both at the national and international levels. We have taken a range of legislative and administrative actions in that regard during the last one year, including the approval of Rules under the domestic Trafficking in Persons and Smuggling of Migrants Acts; National Action Plan 2021-25 prepared jointly by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC); and enhancement of capacity building and inter-agency cooperation of Law Enforcement Agencies involved in anti-human smuggling,” the FO statement said.

It also highlighted that Pakistan had been voluntarily submitting information for the TIP report to the US government since 2007 and had actively worked on implementing practicable recommendations of these reports.

“Pakistan calls upon the authorities concerned in the United States to review the baseless assertions made in the TIP Report, especially with regard to the unwarranted inclusion of Pakistan in the 'CSPA List',” the FO spokesperson said.

The FO statement said that Pakistan also expects the US to share “credible information” on cases involving trafficking of people as well as on “allegations pertaining to support to armed groups using child soldiers”.

“Pakistan’s views and perspective on the subject have been conveyed to the US side,” the statement said, adding that Pakistan would continue to remain engaged with the US government through bilateral channels for constructive dialogue on all issues of mutual interest.

The CSPA prohibits listed governments in the following US programmes: International Military Education and Training, Foreign Military Financing, Excess Defence Articles, and Peacekeeping Operations. Some programmes undertaken pursuant to the Peacekeeping Operations authority are exempted.

The CSPA also prohibits the issuance of licences for direct commercial sales of military equipment to such governments.

A statement issued by the State Department in Washington defined the term “child soldier” as: Any person under 18 years of age who takes a direct part in hostilities as a member of governmental armed forces, police, or other security forces.

Any person under 18 years of age who has been recruited or used in hostilities by armed forces distinct from the armed forces of a state is also considered a child soldier.

Apart from Pakistan, the countries included in the report are Afghanistan, Burma, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mali, Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, Syria, Turkey, Venezuela, and Yemen.