Islamabad: President Dr Arif Alvi on Monday called upon the relevant Government organisations, civil society, human rights groups, media, UN agencies, community, parents, teachers, Ulema and children themselves to come together and play their constructive role in the national effort to improve the lives of children in Pakistan.
"Children in Pakistan are vulnerable to several challenges like stunting, malnutrition and lack of access to quality education and health facilities," the president said in a message on the occasion of Universal Children’s Day.
Besides, he said children were facing various protection challenges like child trafficking, child marriage, child labour, corporal punishment, child abuse, children in conflict with the law, and harmful traditional practices.
Today, Universal Children’s Day is being celebrated under the theme “For every child, every right” to reaffirm our commitment to safeguard the rights and well-being of children. Pakistan is a signatory to seven core international Human Rights Conventions, including the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). Besides, Pakistan also ratified Optional Protocols to the UNCRC on the sale of children, child prostitution and pornography and the involvement of children in armed conflict.
As a signatory to the UNCRC, Pakistan remains at the forefront to advocate, protect and promote child rights. President Alvi said children were the most precious resource of any nation and the sole guarantee for its future.
Pakistan is fully alive to its responsibilities towards its children and is making all efforts to ensure children’s inclusive development, birth registration, education, health care, participation, dignity and security as envisaged in our Constitution and UNCRC. He said Pakistan had promulgated a number of legislations including the ICT Child Protection Act, 2018, the Juvenile Justice System Act, 2018, the Zainab Alert Response and Recovery Act, 2020 and the insertion of “Child Domestic Labour” in the list of occupations of the Employment of Children’s Act, 1991. Similarly, the National Commission on the Rights of Child, ICT Child Protection Institute, Zainab Alert Response and Recovery Agency (ZARRA) and ICT Child Protection Advisory Board have also been established to protect children’s rights and create an enabling environment for them. The president said in accordance with national and international obligations, Pakistan has a clear vision of investing in children.
"We believe that social justice and equality are the cornerstones on which the structure of a healthy society is built.” He said this needed a committed societal response, and the communities and families need to play their role in this noble cause, particularly for the future of our nation. "Our religion, Islam, enjoins parental responsibility for the well-being of children and for building their character by providing them with better education and training. The Holy Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) loved children and was their most affectionate caretaker," he added.
Meanwhile, in connection with World Children’s Day a delegation of children, representing four provinces and Gilgit Baltistan and Azad Jammu and Kashmir, called on President Dr Arif Alvi on Monday and discussed issues and rights of the children.
The delegation was nominated by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and led by the Fund’s first-ever Youth Advocate in Pakistan, 16-year-old Taqwa Ahmad. The children, besides discussing their hopes and expectations for the future highlighted various issues and challenges being faced by them.
Talking to children, the president said that Pakistan was committed to taking steps for the rights and well-being of children. He said that measures were being taken to equip children with education, skills and training.
He stated that children with disabilities needed to be provided inclusive education in regular schools to make them part of mainstream of society, besides equipping them with skill sets to help them find employment in the market. The children asked various questions about climate change, girls education, children with disabilities, and other challenges being faced by them. The children also shared their experiences and called for taking steps to provide them with a conducive environment to grow and flourish in life. Later, the children also attended a hearing, held by the President, in a case related to the banking sector.