Children are our national asset and the future of Pakistan. The Constitution of Pakistan guarantees the children’s rights to survival, development, protection and participation. In 1990 Pakistan ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which makes it obligatory for the state to take policy, legislative, administrative and programmatic measures for the protection of the rights of children. In pursuance of these obligations, the Government of Pakistan has promulgated laws like the Zainab Alert, Response and Recovery Act, 2020, the Juvenile Justice System Act, 2018, the ICT Child Protection, Act, 2018 and the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2015 to protect children from offences like child abduction, child abuse, exposure to seduction and child pornography. Recently, “Child Domestic Labour” has been banned at ICT level by inserting it in Part-I (Occupation) of the Schedule of the Employment of Children Act, 1991.
Furthermore, fifteen (15) Child Protection Committees have been established at ICT level and orientation sessions have been conducted to sensitize these committees on child protection related issues. The Ministry of Human Rights, through its Helpline 1099, has responded to over 400 child rights queries this year. The Zainab Alert App has been linked with Prime Minister’s performance Delivery Unit (PMDU) for raising alerts in case of missing and abducted children. There are currently 170 Dashboards being monitored across the country to alert the District Police Officers (DPOs) and the Regional Police Officers (RPOs) of missing children. The National Commission on the Rights of the Child has been established on 28th Feb, 2020 and a Child Protection Institute will also be established shortly in ICT.
The Government has also launched a National Child Labour Survey, which will be completed in December, 2021. The findings of the survey will aid the government to make evidence based policy decisions for the protection of children. Besides, a Public Sector Development Project, “Human Rights Awareness Programme” has been recently launched for the promotion of human and child rights.
This is our national duty to protect the best interests of children and provide them equal opportunities without any discrimination. I hope that the Corporate Sector and media will play their proactive role in supplementing Government’s efforts to create a protective and enabling environment for our children.