In statement, Foreign Office calls upon American authorities to review assertions of TIP report
Pakistan’s Foreign Office on Friday categorically rejected the country’s “unsubstantiated and baseless” inclusion to the U.S.’ Child Soldiers Prevention Act (CSPA) list, urging Washington to review the “baseless” claims of the annual Trafficking in Persons Report.
“Pakistan does not support any non-state armed group; nor any entity recruiting or using child soldiers,” read the statement issued by spokesperson Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri. “Pakistan’s efforts in fighting non-state armed groups including terrorist entities are well recognized. The inclusion of Pakistan in the ‘CSPA List’ depicts a factual error and lack of understanding,” it said, adding that no Pakistani institutions had been consulted prior to the publication of the report, nor were “any details provided of the basis on which the conclusion was reached.”
The reaction followed the U.S. State Department’s publication of its annual TIP report, in which it added Pakistan to its CSPA list, a designation that—barring a presidential waiver—mandates stringent sanctions on military assistance and curbs on participation in peacekeeping programs.
According to the TIP report, Pakistan was included on the list because it “provided material support to non-state armed groups that recruited and used child soldiers.” Additionally, it claimed that Islamabad did not report investigating, prosecuting, or convicting individuals for child soldiering offenses.
The report defines “child soldiers” as any person under 18 who directly participates in hostilities as a member of governmental armed forces, police, or other security forces. Those compulsorily recruited into governmental armed forces, police, or other security forces are included, as are those under 15 who have been voluntarily recruited into 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, as it any person serving in support roles such as “cook, porter, messenger, medic, guard, or sex slave.”
The Foreign Office maintaining that Pakistan was committed to fighting child trafficking at both 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 and the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime; and enhancement of capacity building and inter-agency cooperation of Law Enforcement Agencies involved in anti-human smuggling,” it said.
“Pakistan has been voluntarily submitting information for the TIP Report to the U.S. government since 2007 and has actively worked on implementing the practicable recommendations of these reports,” it continued and urged Washington to review its findings. “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’,” it said. “Pakistan also expects the sharing of ‘credible information’ on cases involving Trafficking in Persons as well as on allegations pertaining to support to armed groups using child soldiers,” it added.
“Pakistan’s views and perspective on the subject have been conveyed to the U.S. side. Pakistan would continue to remain engaged with the U.S. government through bilateral channels for constructive dialogue on all issues of mutual interest,” it concluded.