ISLAMABAD: Riaz Ahmed Fatyana, Chairman, Standing Committee on law & Justice, National Assembly of Pakistan said the government initiatives to improve state of Child Rights in view of Pakistan’s International Commitments. He was addressing during a dialogue with media on “State of Child Rights in view of Pakistan’s International Commitments” organized Child Rights Movement (CRM).
He said Pakistan has around 87.938 million children approximately 47% of Pakistan’s total population. He acknowledged that unfortunately Pakistan hasn’t delivered on its international and national commitments towards child rights however the current government is striving to change this situation.
He recalled Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan’s first speech to the nation in which the PM mentioned about the dire state of children health in Pakistan. He also alluded to 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.
Afshan Tehseen Bajwa, Chairperson, National Commission on Child Rights (NCRC) talked about the Role of NCRC. She mentioned that formation of this commission is a step-in right direction for safeguarding rights of the children as now policymakers are worried about the international commitments. NCRC is especially focusing on issues of girls’ education, early child and forced marriages, and access to health and hygiene. Increasing participation of children in policy matters related to them is another key goal of the commission.
Dr. Syed Safdar Raza, Senior Child Rights Activists mentioned that due to lack of will from policymakers, Pakistani children are deprived of their rights to survival, protection and development. He shared that Pakistan failed on most of the child related indicators of Millennium Development Goals and Pakistani children are still facing the issues of poor health and malnutrition. Pakistan also has 22.84 million out-of-school children which is the 2nd highest figure in the world. In addition, there’s a wide gender and class divide in provision of child rights.
He shared 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. She 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 civil society activists, health advocates, educationists, child rights experts, and key journalists and reporters. The participants were in harmonized in view that children are not our future. They are our present – here and now.