'Govt apathy to blame for dismal state of children' -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

‘Govt apathy to blame for dismal state of children’

The Government’s indifference towards child rights is responsible for the dismal state of children across Pakistan that has led the country to become a source, transit and destination for child trafficking victims, This was the consensus at a seminar titled, “Child Rights: Are we doing enough?” organised by the British Council at a local hotel on Tuesday.

“With the increasing state of violence across the country, the menace of child militancy is also growing in urban areas like Lyari of Karachi, where some factions of political and religious parties have recruited children for attacks on rival groups,” said a speaker, Salam Dharejo, representative of the NGO SPARC. He said that the primary responsibility to provide a secure environment to children lay on the government, but it continues to ignore the impact the current political situation is having on the mindset of children.

Due to the disintegrated law and order situation, easy accessibility to weapons, and lack of proactive role of the police, instead of concentrating on education, an astonishing number of children and teenagers have indulged in criminal activities including street crime and illegal sale of weapons – which is a lucrative business – but no action has been taken by the government to address the issue.

Speakers said it was high time the government and the civil society realised their responsibility to secure the rights of children, who will lead the nation ahead. “Only an ongoing struggle for child rights can promise a better future for children. Unless the government and the civil society realised their collective social responsibility, the situation cannot improve,” said Zulfiqar Ali, Director Children’s Museum for Peace and Human Rights (CMPHR). “It is a non-starter. The government needs to be held responsible and accountable. Privatization or public-private partnership is not the solution. Some basic rights have to be ensured by the government.”

Ali’s views were endorsed by Prof. Anita Ghulam Ali from Sindh Education Foundation who said the situation of child rights will deteriorate further if we continue to ignore the social, economic and political impact of situations that negatively affect children.

Mannan Rana, Child Protection Specialist, UNICEF, presented his paper on “violence against children” wherein he talked about inter-generation violence where main perpetrators of violence include parents and other family members or teachers who transmit violent or sexual behaviour. “The first institution for a child is a family. Before we go on to accuse the government of all the ills in society, parents need to realise their responsibility towards children as well,” he said.

Mashood Rizvi, Provincial Director, British Council, and Sumbul Munir, of the British Alumni Association, also spoke on the occasion.

Source: The News
Date:2/24/2008