Legislators reject US claims of Pakistan’s forces recruiting children

Ijaz Kakakhel

A legislative body of upper house of parliament on Thursday expressed serious concern over Pakistan’s inclusion in the Child Soldiers Prevention Act (CSPA) list by the United States and decided to take up the issue at higher forum of US and United Nation.

Minister for Human Rights Dr. Shireen Mazari told the Human Rights Committee of Senate that the US has leveled a false allegation against Pakistan, adding that Pakistan rejected such baseless claims. She said that Pakistan was fully implementing the UN charter on child soldiers.

Chairman of the committee Walid Iqbal questioned the rationale behind inclusion of Pakistan in such a list as there is no concept of any recognized militia or child soldiers in Pakistan. Dr. Shireen Mazari stated that Pakistan Army is a professional Army and termed the act politically motivated.

She said that recruitment to Pakistan Armed Forces in done through a competitive process voluntarily.

Minimum age for recruitment is 16 years and recruited personnel are not sent into combat until they turn 18 years old. Dr. Shireen Mazari said that this is mala fide intent on part of United States.

Senator Mushahid Hussain expressed his disconcert on the ignorance of US State Department. “We should firmly put our case forward jointly with Turkey which has also been included in the list.

Joint letter should be addressed to US State Department in consultation with Foreign Office in order to resolve the issue at earliest.

This move can have long term ramifications for US-Pakistan diplomatic as well as Economic Relations” Said Senator Mushahid Hussain.

Members also discussed the possibility of approaching relevant committee of United Status Congress on the matter.

While discussing Minar-e-Pakistan harassment case, the HRs Minister Shireen Mazari called for placing curbs on the country’s youth (male) “to teach them a lesson”, holding them responsible for the recent rise in violence against women.

The minister made the remarks during a meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Human Rights where the Ministry of Human Rights presented a report on the horrific assault of a young woman by a violent mob near Minar-i-Pakistan on Aug 14.

Mazari suggested imposing restrictions on youngsters and said that a certain time slot would be designated for women at parks.

“Why are restrictions being imposed on women?” she questioned, adding that restrictions needed to be placed on men, not women.

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