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January 13, 2018



More than 900 children went missing from Sindh last year

More than 900 children went missing from Sindh in 2017; while the authorities managed to recover 650 of them, the whereabouts of the remaining 250 are still unknown, the Sindh Assembly was told on Friday.

Adviser to the CM on Social Welfare Shamim Mumtaz shared these figures in the house in response to a call to attention notice by Nusrat Seher Abbasi, an MPA from the opposition party Pakistan Muslim League-Functional (PML-F), as lawmakers discussed child safety in the wake of the horrific rape and murder of a seven-year-old girl in Kasur, Punjab, which has mobilised the country to talk about child abuse.

In her call to attention notice, the PML-F lawmaker said that 1,894 children had gone missing in 2017 and she wanted to know what steps the provincial authorities were taking to recover them.

However, Shamim, the CM’s adviser disputed the figure and said that 1,894 is the number of children who went missing from across the country in 2017, not just Sindh. Sharing the numbers for Sindh, Shamim said 231 children were reported missing from Karachi, 103 from Hyderabad, 164 from Sukkur and 311 from Mirpur Khas, while several others went missing from other districts.

She added that while 650 of these children had been recovered, efforts were underway by the social welfare department to find the remaining at the earliest.

According to Shamim, the children disappeared for a number of reasons, including kidnapping for ransom and running away from home after developing differences with elders.

She claimed that Punjab government’s Child Protection and Welfare Bureau had emerged as one of the most preferred destination for Sindh’s children who run away from their homes because of the attractive facilities being given to homeless children sheltering at its centres.

According to Shamim, her department was in touch with the Punjab child welfare bureau to confirm the status of the missing children of Sindh who might be taking refuge there. She further said that she has been making efforts to establish an umbrella organisation which would collect data on missing children on a national level, adding that at the moment the provinces have their own authorities and bureaus to deal with missing children which makes effective coordination among them difficult. She also called for the enacting of legislation for cases of missing children.

Regularisation of teachers

The house was also informed that the education department has started the process of regularising services of contractual government school teachers hired through a recruitment test conducted by the University of Sindh, Jamshoro a few years back.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Nisar Ahmed Khuhro gave this assurance to the assembly on the adjournment motion of PML-F’s Nusrat Seher Abbasi who raised the issue of regularisation of more than 1,800 contractual teachers saying that it had been pending since 2013 even though the teachers’ services should have been regularised on the basis of an ordinance on the subject promulgated in 2012.

She added that only Karachi Division contract teachers had been regularised while the cases of teachers in other parts of Sindh were still pending.

Khuhro, the parliamentary affairs minister, opposed the adjournment motion saying the regularisation process had been started. The abduction of a 16-year-old Hindu girl from Mirpur Mathelo town in Ghotki was also discussed in Friday’s session.

Diwan Chand Chawla, minority MPA of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, raised the matter and informed lawmakers that Pooja Bai was abducted 15 days ago and the local police have been doing nothing to recover her.

Chawla pointed out that the alarming incidents of Hindu girls being kidnapped had been increasing and expressed fear that a bigger tragedy could strike anytime because Sindh is home to several minority communities. The parliamentary affairs minister assured the house that the provincial government would do its best to recover the missing Hindu girl.

Meanwhile, lawmakers were also informed that the Sindh chief minister had taken notice of the alleged incident of sexual assault on a girl in a private school by the school guard in Ibrahim Hyderi, Karachi. Special Assistant to the CM on Women Development Iram Khalid said that a medical examination of the girl was being conducted and an inquiry would also be initiated.