Pak rejects its designation as child soldier recruiter, urges US to review decision

Islamabad: Pakistan has rejected its inclusion in the US’ Child Soldiers Prevention Act (CSPA) list, saying the move depicted “a factual error and lack of understanding”, and urged Washington to review the “baseless assertions” made against the Islamabad.

The United States had added Pakistan to the list of countries that have recruited or used child soldiers in 2020. The designation could lead to sanctions on military assistance to the listed countries.

Expressing displeasure on the US move, Pakistan’s Foreign Office, in a statement on Saturday, said no state institution was consulted by the US prior to the publication of the report. “Nor were any details provided of the basis on which the conclusion was reached,” it added, Dawn reported.

The statement emphasised that Pakistan neither supported any non-state armed group nor any entity recruiting or using child soldiers, saying “Pakistan’s efforts in fighting non-state armed groups including terrorist entities are well-recognised.”

It maintained that Pakistan was committed to fighting “this scourge — both at the national and international levels”.

The CSPA list consists of foreign governments that have recruited or used child soldiers. The entities reviewed for this designation include armed forces, police, other security forces and government-supported armed groups.

Six governments were identified on the first CSPA list in 2010. This year the number of the countries on the list have reached 15, the highest so far. Pakistan and Turkey are a new addition to the list.

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.