‘Pakistan has failed to protect its children’


ISLAMABAD: “There is no child protection system in Islamabad Capital Territory and a number of bills related to children’s right are pending at the National Assembly (NA) level,” Habiba Salman, Child Rights Movement (CRM) National Coordinator, said while speaking to participants of a conference titled ‘25 years of the UNCRC and the State of Child Rights in Pakistan’ at Quaid-i-Azam University. The conference was jointly organised by CRM and Quaid-i-Azam University. Speakers urged the government to legislate for the protection of children’s rights. Pakistan signed and rectified United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1990, but is yet to make any progress towards providing protection, health and education to its children. Ms Salman said the government needs to play a role in ensuring enactment of the national commission on Rights of Children Bill, prohibition of corporal punishment bill and child marriage restraint amendment bill. Malnutrition has become a key concern for the country, she said.

Two and a half decades after signing UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, government performance remains abysmal

“According to Unicef, 352,000 children die every year in this country, and an estimated 35 per cent of these deaths are attributed to malnutrition,” she said.

She added that one sees no urgency, or commitment at the federal and provincial levels to respond to this situation by implementing strategies and increasing budgetary allocations.

Speaking on the occasion, Dr Muhammad Zaman, QAU Department of Sociology chairman, said Pakistan’s future is linked to its children and Quaid-i-Azam University is going to include the issue of child right in its curriculum.

“At the Department of Sociology, we have designed a course on Sociology of Child Rights, currently awaiting approval, this will sensitise students to children’s rights,” he said.

QAU Acting Vice Chancellor Dr Eatzaz Ahmad highlighted academia’s role in the promotion of child rights in Pakistan. “Pakistan being party to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child is responsible to formulate strategies for future course for academia, society, national and international institutions and the federal and provincial governments to promote child rights in the country,” he said.

“The academicians, scholars, researchers, students and NGO activists must develop theoretical, conceptual and empirical work to analyse and understand the current state of child rights in the country,” said Prof. Dr. Aliya H. Khan, QAU Faculty of Social Sciences Dean.

Stefano Gatto, European Union Delegation Deputy Head, said the European Union welcomed Pakistan’s ratification of the most core international human rights conventions.

Barrister Zafarullah Khan, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister of Pakistan and the chief guest, apprised participants on the steps taken by the government for the implementation of the UNCRC.

Arshad Mahmood, Save the Children, Director Advocacy and Child Rights Governance also spoke on the occasion.