On the eve of Universal Children’s Day, it is heartening to note that Pakistan joins the international community to celebrate the Day with great fervor and enthusiasm. Pakistan stands firm in its commitment and accords top priority to the children in ensuring their survival, protection, development and rights.
The Celebration of this Day reminds us of our obligations and commitments for the rights of our children. At the Regional level, Pakistan is also signatory to the SAARC Convention on Regional Arrangements for promotion of Child Welfare in South Asia; and SAARC Convention on Preventing and Combating Trafficking in Women and Children for Prostitution.
Despite the fact that Pakistan is facing many challenges, a number of policies, legislative, administrative and programmatic measures have been taken by the Ministry of Human Rights. The Ministry is implementing a National Plan of Action for Human Rights which has an exclusive chapter on child protection, child labour, education and other measures for ending discrimination and violence against children. On 18th March, 2016 the Ministry of Human Rights has promulgated the land mark legislation “Criminal Law (Second Amendment) Act, 2016” which has raised the age of criminal responsibility from 7 to 10 years and set the upper threshold from 12 to 14 years. This act has introduced punishment for cruelty to child and child pornography for the first time. The proper implementation of the law is a challenge ahead for which we are all prepared. The enactment of National Commission on the Rights of the Child Act 2017 is a great contribution for providing the child-friendly environment to the children in Pakistan. The Ministry of Human Rights has also drafted Islamabad Capital Territory Child Protection Bill, 2017 to protect the vulnerable children at ICT level. Moreover, the Juvenile Justice System Bill, 2017 has been drafted in consultations with the stakeholders at national and provincial levels to provide a congenial environment to the children in conflict with the law.
In order to effectively address the child protection issues, all the stakeholders must put their efforts to ensure healthy growth and development of children. This is our national duty to protect the interests of the children and provide them equal opportunities. I hope that the relevant UN Agencies, corporate sector, civil society organizations and media will play proactive role in creating protective environment for children.
May Allah bless us in this noble cause. Ameen