CSPA: A consequence to ‘absolutely not’
IT was never expected from a super power to demonstrate a sudden and artless behaviour upon refusal of Pakistan to provide military bases for its so-called anti-terror operations in Afghanistan.
Within few days, after Prime Minister Imran Khan’s refusal to provide military bases to US, President Jeo Biden included Pakistan in the list of Child Soldiers Prevention Act (CSPA) along with some other state.
CSPA requires publication in the US annual TIP report, a list of foreign states which have recruited or used child soldiers (less than 18 years).
In Pakistan there has been no such recruitment in its entire history. Earlier US demanded Pakistan for the provision of military bases to conduct anti-terror operation in Afghanistan, after its pull-out from Afghanistan.
“Absolutely not” was the response of Prime Minister Imran Khan to journalist Jonathan Swan, once he tried to probe a Pakistani stance over US demands.
Indeed, “Pakistan is ready to be a partner in Afghanistan with the United States” for bringing peace and stability in order reduce the sufferance of the people of that country.
Nevertheless, Pakistan cannot become part of any country or a campaign which aims at creating chaos and promoting civil war in Afghanistan.
This indeed is the principled stance of Pakistan along with a proposal that, all Afghan stakeholders must start a peace process which should be Afghan owned and Afghan led with a dedicated approach to reach a logical conclusion for reconciliation among all stakeholders.
Like its track-record, US is once again leaving Afghanistan in a haste without establishing peace and acting upon the pre-requisites, agreed between US and Taliban in February 29, 2020 Agreement.
In theory, Child Soldiers Prevention Act (CSPA) is a federal statute of US Government signed on December 23, 2008 by President George W. Bush “as part of the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008”.
The law in fact, bans any military force which recruits child soldiers any person with less than 18 years of age.
However, in practice, CSPA is a tool in the hand of US against the states which do not comply with its directives.
Indeed, it is a tool in the hands of US just like, Europe and US has FATF as a huge instrument which is used against countries which do not follow their narratives.
FATF is totally a political tool, being used against Pakistan since last few years, whereas, India and some other US allies are kept out of its effects deliberately.
While included Pakistan in the list of CSPA, United States crossed all the limits of being a discriminatory power and acted indecently against the ground realities in Pakistan.
There is no recruitment of soldiers in Pakistani armed forces (including civil armed forces and police) which include the age bracket of less than 18 years.
The Foreign Office of Pakistan issued a statement over this US irrational act as, “a factual error and lack of understanding and baseless assertions” which must be reviewed by Washington.
Pakistan strongly feels that, US has included its name in CSPA for its arm-twisting and forcing Pakistan to reconcile with US strategic demands in this region (South and Central Asia).
The urgency of such an illogical act can be attributed to the fact that, U.S feels rapidly getting irrelevant in the event of its pulls out from Afghanistan with no military presence in the region.
It is worth mentioning that, region surrounding Pakistan and Afghanistan is under-going a strategic re-alignment with China and Russia playing major role. In this entire strategic re-alignment, Pakistan has a pivotal role, owing to its geopolitical location.
Indeed, despite US has strategic partnership with India through a number of strategic agreements, Pakistani geopolitics cannot be ignored by it. Currently, U.S has four agreements with India.
One: General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) which enables the concerned partner countries to share military intelligence between each other.
Two: Logistic Exchange Memorandum of Understanding (LEMOA) for supply, resupply and repairs.
Three: Communication and Information Security Memorandum of Agreement (CISMOA) is based on bilateral exchange of information and sharing of communication. Four: Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geospatial Intelligence.
It is most critical agreement among all, authorizes the exchange of critical unclassified and controlled unclassified information.
The likely implications of including Pakistan in the list of CSPA are; Pakistan may not be able to avail the US funded facilities like, “International Military Education and Training, Foreign Military Financing, Excess Defence Articles, and Peacekeeping Operations”.
It also prohibits the issuance of licences for direct commercial sales of military equipment to Pakistan.
In a way, these are set of sanctions, being imposed on Pakistan, forcing it to submit in front of United States. Nevertheless, Pakistan has attained self-sufficiency in almost all of areas listed above.
The UN Peacekeeping Operations is surely an area where Pakistan has contributed the maximum (as maximum troops contributing country) in last six decades with a huge financial return.
Indeed, the other major powers and international community must take note of US control over international organizations like; UNO, World Bank and IMF. Listing Pakistan in CSPA is highly discriminatory, vindictive and prejudiced.
Pakistan cannot be forced to surrender its sovereignty and national pride on the wish and will of any external power.
Indeed, gone are the days when Washington used to dictate Islamabad for its political and strategic objectives. Pakistan has decided not to allow anyone to use its geopolitics by or against any state.
There is no reality in the TIP report that, Pakistan recruited any one with less than 18 years of age in its security forces.
Pakistan demands US to immediately review its unfounded proclamations made in its recent TIP report and apologize from the people of Pakistan for this malicious act.
— The writer is Professor of Politics and IR at International Islamic University, Islamabad.