By: Our Correspondent
MURREE: Policy makers discussed the protection of child rights and stressed the need for political unity to address the issues pertaining to children in Pakistan during a round-table discussion. Dr. Nausheen Hamid, Parliamentary Secretary, Federal Ministry of National Health Services Regulations and Coordination, said that, The Zainab Alert Response and Recovery Bill, 2020, and Ehsaas Undergraduate Scholarship Program as some key steps taken by the government to safeguard the rights of Pakistani children. She also mentioned that the government is also keeping the damage caused by COVID-19 pandemic in consideration.
Mehnaz Akbar Aziz, Member, National Assembly, Pakistan stressed that policy makers will have to set aside their differences and work together to safeguard the future of Pakistan which is possible only through provision of child rights. She mentioned policy makers need to ensure that overall spending on child rights especially percentage of developmental budgets in education, child health and nutrition, and child protection are increased. She further added that the policy makers also need to ensure that the 76% of child related laws which are not in compliance of UNCRC are corrected and implemented properly.
Sajjad Ahmed Cheema, Executive Director, SPARC said that Pakistan has approximately 47% of Pakistan’s total population comprises of children under the age of 18. Unfortunately, Pakistan hasn’t delivered on its international and national commitments towards child rights however the current government is striving to change this situation.
Afshan Tehseen Bajwa, Chairperson, National Commission on Child Rights (NCRC) highlighted the significance of NCRC. She mentioned that Pakistan ratified United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) in 1990 but until 2017 there was no national level body to monitor state of children in Pakistan according to the requirements of CRC and other international commitments. Formation of this commission is a step-in right direction for safeguarding rights of the children and the commission must be strengthened at earliest.
Malik Imran Ahmed, Country Head, Campaign for Tobacco Free Pakistan highlighted the increasing trend of tobacco consumption among children as a serious child rights issue. He shared that despite becoming a Party to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) in 2005, many of Pakistan’s measures to control tobacco consumption are not completely aligned with FCTC. Due to this monitoring and implementation of laws, around 1,200 Pakistani children begin smoking every day and approximately 166,000 people are dying every year because of tobacco induced diseases.