WASHINGTON: The US has withheld military assistance to a unit of the Pakistan Army after allegations of human rights abuses against it, saying such violations are taken "seriously" and security assistances were subject to American laws and regulations.
"We take all allegations of human rights abuses seriously, and we discuss them with the government of Pakistan, and we follow the law, and we work with our partners in Pakistan to deal with any issues that come to our attention," US Secretary of State Ms Hillary Clinton told reporters with Mr Qureshi standing by her side at the Foggy Bottom headquarters of the State Department.
"All US security assistance must be provided in accordance with US laws and regulations, including what are called the Leahy vetting requirements. We will continue to ensure that all assistance provided through the multi-year security assistance commitment that I'm announcing today will also comply with US laws and regulations," Ms Clinton said.
Ms Clinton was responding to a question when asked to confirm that the US is planning to withhold military aid from Pakistani military units that are engaged in human rights abuses.
"Investigation has been ordered by a very senior officer of the Pakistan army. And I can assure you that there will be zero tolerance against human rights violations," Mr Qureshi said in response to the same question.
Earlier, State Department spokesman Mr P J Crowley confirmed that the US has withheld military assistance to one particular Pakistani military unit which has been accused of human rights abuses.
The decision has been taken in accordance with a Leahy Amendment of the Congress. "We have an ongoing requirement in the military support that we provide to any military, including Pakistan. As we are providing that assistance, we have to ensure that any unit that we are supporting is free of any human rights concerns or violations. We have been following the law all along,"
America has not supported those units against which there were human rights concerns and this was fully in accordance with the law, the spokesman added.
"So for those units that we are supporting, we are satisfied these units do not have human rights concerns. We will just continue in our relationship with Pakistan as well as other countries to fully support the requirements of the Leahy amendment," Mr Crowley said.
He said the US is familiar with the recent video in circulation in this regard, that seemed to demonstrate potential human rights violations with respect to Pakistani units.
"In that case we've asked the Pakistani military to conduct an investigation. General Kayani has assured us that there's an investigation under way," he said.
"In this particular case, we've made sure that, you know, we will not support units where we have credible information," he said.
"In the context of Pakistan, we've had a number of conversations with Pakistan over many months on these issues. We've had discussions with Pakistan both before that video, as an example, and since that video. And we do believe that and are supporting Pakistan as it both investigates human rights concerns, but also to improve, efforts to further professionalize the Pakistani military. So this is something that has been and continues to be part of our ongoing dialogue with Pakistan," the spokesman added.