LAHORE: Speaking at a session titled “State of Child Rights in view of Pakistan’s International Commitments”, Ejaz Alam Augustine, Provincial Minister, Human Rights, Punjab highlighted the government’s initiatives to improve the state of Child Rights in view of Pakistan’s international commitments. He said that Pakistan has around 87.938 million children which is approximately 47% of Pakistan’s total population. He added that unfortunately Pakistan has not been able to deliver on its international and national commitments towards child rights but the current government is striving to change this situation.
He recalled P.M Imran Khan’s first speech to the nation in which the PM had mentioned the dire state of children health in Pakistan; the Zainab Alert, Response and Recovery Bill, 2020, Ehsaas Undergraduate Scholarship Program, and other steps taken by the government to safeguard the rights of Pakistani children.
Ms. Kanwal Pervaiz Chaudhary, Member Punjab Assembly said that Pakistan was the sixth and first Muslim country that signed the UNCRC 30 years ago. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) is often identified as the standard source for measuring child rights. The convention lists down civil, political, cultural, social, and economic rights of children, and acts as a standard for disseminating laws that might help protect the rights of children.
She further added we need to work on the foremost infrastructural reforms that are required to uplift the living standard of Pakistan’s children. Whether it’s health and nutrition, hazardous labour, early marriages, trafficking, sexual abuse, and exploitation; significant reforms are required to ensure that the rights of all children are protected and delivered.
Mr. Khalil Ahmed Program Manager, SPARC mentioned that due to a lack of will from policymakers, Pakistani children are deprived of their rights to survival, protection, and development. He shared Pakistan’s low ranking on most of the child-related indicators of Millennium Development Goals, with 22.84 million out-of-school children in Pakistan, which is the 2nd highest figure in the world.
Mr. Iftikhar Mubarak, Executive Director, Search for Justice said that approximately 12 million Pakistani children are engaged in labour force and many of them are involved in hazardous forms. The figure also includes over 1.2 million children living and working on the streets. Child marriages, trafficking for commercial and sexual exploitation, child sexual abuse is also on the rise. He shared that all political parties have to unite and make across the board efforts otherwise Pakistani children will continue to suffer.
The event was attended by senior policymakers, civil society activists, advocates, educationists, child rights experts, and key journalists and reporters. The participants were harmonized in view that children are not only our future. They are our present – here and now.