Farah Gul
ISLAMABAD: Society for Protection of Rights of the Child (SPARC) organized an online “Post-Budget Session to analyze the Resources Allocated for the Protection and Promotion of Child Rights” on Saturday.

Child Rights Activists demanded the Federal and Provincial governments to increase resource allocations to improve the status of child rights in Pakistan.

Barrister Muhammad Ali Saif, Member, Senate of Pakistan said Pakistan has around 87.938 million children approximately 47% of Pakistan’s total population. Its present as well as future depends on the survival, protection and promotion rights, and development of its children, who constitute the majority of our population. Our children are not our future. They are our present – here and now.

Mr. Sajjad Ahmed Cheema, Executive Director, SPARC recalled Pakistan’s Prime Minister Mr. Imran Khan’s first speech to the nation in which the PM mentioned about the dire state of children health in Pakistan.  He further added the despite such big commitment, we see that there is still no improvement in child health. In budget, there is no special allocation for child health and nutrition.

Mr. Khalil Ahmed, Manager Communication, SPARC highlighted that Pakistan has not made much progress on its commitment of providing free and quality education to every child according to article 25-A of constitution.

He mentioned that according to official statistics, Pakistan has 22.84 million out-of-school children (age 05 to 16) which is the 2nd highest figure in the world. Allocating the salaries of teachers does not equate to working on education. Adequate budget should be allotted to convert primary schools in to middle and secondary schools to curb down the drop-out-ratio of children.

Mr. Iqbal Dheto, Senior Child Rights Activists shared that the issue of child labour has moved on from just being an economic issue. It has become a protection concern now.

Out of 12 million children engaged in labour force, many are moving towards hazardous forms in order to make their ends meet. This includes trafficking for commercial and sexual exploitation.  He also expressed great concern at the alarming rate of cases of abuse surfacing against child domestic workers and called for a complete ban on hiring children as domestic help.

Mr. Amer Ejaz, Director, Budget Study Centre, CPDI, Mr. Tahir Dhindsa, Senior Journalist, Mr. Ahmed Mukhtar Naqshabandi, Consultant World Bank and Mr. Iftikhar Shirazi, Senior Journalist also spoke on the occasion and said that the initial perception of COVID-19 effecting only elders and people with prior health conditions has long gone.

After 3 months of lockdown, people have realized that children, have been the biggest effectives of this situation. Their access to education, health, nutrition, protection, and mental and physical development, has been dealt a heavy blow. If the policy makers do not consider this reality in resource allocation for child rights, the very survival of our children will be at stake.

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