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ISLAMABAD: Human Rights Minister Dr Shireen Mazari, on Thursday, slammed as "politically motivated" the United States decision to include Pakistan in Child Soldier Prevention Act (CSPA) list, saying that the move reflected "mala fide intent" on part of the US.

She was briefing the Senate Standing Committee on Human Rights that met under the chair of Walid Iqbal from the ruling party; Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).

"Pakistan Army is a professional force. The recruitments in Pakistan's armed forces are done through a competitive process, voluntarily. There is nothing like child soldiers being recruited in Pakistan's security forces," she said.

The minister said the minimum age for recruitment in the armed forces is 16 years and recruited personnel are not sent into combat until they reach the age of 18.

"The US decision to place Pakistan in the list of CSPA reflects mala fide intent on its part. This is totally a politically motivated decision," she said while strongly condemning this move.

Walid Iqbal, the Senate panel's chairman, questioned the rationale behind inclusion of Pakistan in such a list.

"There is no concept of any recognised militia or child soldiers in Pakistan. This decision does not make any sense," he said.

The committee members also discussed the possibility of approaching relevant committee of the US Congress on the matter.

Mushahid Hussain Sayed expressed his "disconcert on the ignorance of the US State Department" with regard to inclusion of Pakistan in CSPA list.

"We should firmly put our case forward jointly with Turkey which has also been included in the list. In my opinion, a 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," he said.

The committee unanimously passed the National Commission on the Status of Women (Amendment) Bill 2020 moved by Kamran Murtaza.

The bill provides that the chairman/chairperson of National Commission on Status of Women can only serve for a three-year term without any further extension.

Committee members were also briefed on "growing incidents of suicide in Chitral and surrounding areas."

Dr Mazari informed the committee that Human Rights Ministry was working on decriminalizing suicide, which, she said, was being done throughout the world.

"Suicide is a medical issue, not a criminal one, and it should be dealt accordingly," she said.

Chairman committee lauded the efforts of Human Rights Ministry in this regard.

Officials from the Human Rights Ministry briefed the Senate panel that identification parade of 141 suspects of Minar-e-Pakistan woman harassment incident was arranged on Wednesday and the victim identified six suspects. Nine suspects were identified through NADRA (National Database and Registration Authority) verification. Efforts are on to track down all the suspects in the case, the committee was briefed.

Committee members paid homage to veteran Kashmiri leader Syed Ali Gillani for his contribution to Kashmir freedom movement.

Committee members including Falak Naz, Faisal Sabzwari, Gurdeep Singh, Abida Muhammad Azeem, Tahir Bizinjo and senior officials from Human Rights Ministry attended the meeting.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021


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