CSPA: US’ listing holds no merit | By Syed Qamar Afzal Rizvi

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CSPA: US’ listing holds no merit


THE United States has unjustifiably added Pakistan to a CSPA list of countries— that are implicated in the use of child soldiers over the past year, an action that is being taken by Pakistan’s Foreign Office as Washington’s vindictive response to Pakistan’s sovereign refusal of US demands of providing military bases. There has been no reasonable or sufficient basis for this US action against Pakistan.

This display of unfairness and prejudice at the part of the US State Department seems to up the ante between the two sides—who are already at the helm of their differences over the Afghan issue.

In 2008, The US Congress passed a law— aimed at preventing the exploitation of children in armed conflict by leveraging U.S. arms sales and military assistance to prompt governments to end the recruitment or use of child soldiers.

‘’The law, known as the Child Soldiers Prevention Act (CSPA), took effect in 2009 and contains several elements to help prevent and ultimately end the use of children as tools of warfare around the world.

Congress, through the CSPA, has defined child soldiers in a manner consistent with the Optional Protocol.

Under the CSPA, the term “child soldier” refers to persons under age 18 who: (•) take direct part in hostilities as a member of governmental armed forces, police, or other security forces; or (•) are compulsorily recruited into governmental armed forces, police, or other security forces (or are under 15 years old and are voluntarily recruited), including in non-combat roles; or (•) are recruited or used in hostilities by non-state armed forces, including in non-combat roles’’.

Moreover, Afghanistan, Myanmar, Congo, Iran, Iraq, Turkey, Libya, Mali, Nigeria, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela and Yemen are also included in the list of US Child Soldiers Prevention Act (CSPA).

The report found that juveniles below the age of 15 are being inducted into the military in these governments.

Nonetheless, the US President has authority under CSPA to waive all, or certain types, of security assistance restrictions to a given country if the President determines that doing so serves the US.

It is the US Congress which recommends the government to take a relevant action against the suspected governments listed in CSPA.

The CSPA prohibits the issuance of licenses for direct commercial sales of military equipment to listed countries, apart from preventing those to be included in several US programs, including International Military Education and Training, Foreign Military Financing, Excess Defence Articles, and Peacekeeping Operations.

Accordingly, the CSPA requires the US Secretary of State to publish an annual list of countries whose armed forces, police or other security forces, or government-backed armed groups recruit or use child soldiers..

As for Pakistan, Islamabad is highly justified in registering its protest over this fictive action at the part of the Biden Administration since no formal procedure was adopted before declaring Pakistan name on the said list

“Pakistan’s efforts in fighting non-state armed groups, including terrorist entities, were well recognized’, it further added that ‘The inclusion of Pakistan in the CSPA List depicts a factual error and lack of understanding. 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’’ reiterated Pakistan Foreign office in a statement released on Friday. The so- called move is polarized and unwarranted.

Pakistan’s Foreign Office further stated that Islamabad had been voluntarily submitting information for the TIP Report to successive US governments since 2007 and had actively worked on implementing the practicable recommendations of these reports.

The argument solicited by Pakistan holds considerable leverage since the inclusion of Pakistan in the CSPA List depicts a factual error and lack of understanding sufficiently endorsed by the fact that no State institution was consulted by the US prior to the publication of the report.

Notably, the Pakistani institutions have taken a range of legislative and administrative actions-cum-reforms 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,
And yet, five factors play a significant role in this regard.

First, this spontaneous enlisting indicates that the Biden Administration is stunned and confused by Pakistan’s sovereign refusal of providing the US any military base accompanied by the current resolve that Islamabad no more intends to renew the logistics support agreement with the US signed in 2001.

Second, with the rising image of the Pakistan military globally, both India and the United States feel dejected.

Third, the US is highly envious of the growing military to military relations between Beijing-Moscow-Islamabad.

Fourth, the US wants to limit the scope of any military sale deal between Russia and Pakistan.

And last but not the least, the said move conveys a message to both Ankara and Islamabad that the notion to go closer towards Russia and China is not regarded as a good departure in Washington.

Put fairly, so whatever remains the geopolitical motives of the US move, one fact is clear that both Turkey and Pakistan will join their strategic hands to enhance their relations.

Absolutely, in no way, the Pakistani Establishment, as well as the civil government, will be pressurized to change their poised mindset to defend the sovereignty and the national interests of Pakistan. Nonetheless, Washington must accept this fait accompli that it had to follow an exit strategy.

Should this truth be ever denied by the US that it was because of the epic cooperation of Pakistan’s forces that the Al-Qaeda network has been completely eliminated from the Afghan land that Afghanistan is no more an active zone of hostilities? The current US move cannot downgrade the morale of our armed forces who have played a rich role in the UN’s peacekeeping missions.

—The writer, an independent ‘IR’ researcher-cum-international law analyst based in Pakistan, is member of European Consortium for Political Research Standing Group on IR, Critical Peace & Conflict Studies, also a member of Washington Foreign Law Society and European Society of International Law.

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