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The State of Child Rights in Pakistan requires urgent attention of the stakeholders

The Department of Sociology Quaid-i-Azam University in Collaboration with Child Rights Movement Pakistan and Save the Children Pakistan Program organized an International Conference “25 years of the UNCRC and the State of Child Rights in Pakistan”to commemorate the Universal Children’s Day 2014.

In his opening remarks, Prof. Dr. Eatzaz Ahmad,Vice Chancellor (QAU) highlighted the role of academia in the promotion of child rights in Pakistan.He said that the conference is aimed to evaluate and analyze the state of child rights in Pakistan. Pakistan being party to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child is responsible to formulate strategies for future course of action for the academia, society, national and international institutions and the federal and provincial governments to promote child rights in the country.

Ms. Habiba Salman, National Coordinator Child Rights Movement (CRM) Pakistan said that Pakistan was the first Muslim and 6th country in the world to sign and ratify the UN CRC on 12th November in 1990. Universal Children’s Day this year has special significance as it is the 25th anniversary of the UNCRC and we need to review that what positive changes have been brought into the lives of children in Pakistan in the past 24 years said Ms. Salman. Pakistanhas to go a long way to ensure all children enjoy the rights enshrined in the UNCRC. Various bills related to child rights are pending at the national and provincial levels, budgetary allocation for children is still far below the desired level and ratification of the Optional Protocol to CRC on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict took more than a decade and still requires a push highlight Ms. Salman. The federal and provincial governments in Pakistan need to accelerate its struggle towards the implementation of the UNCRC in Pakistan in light of the Concluding Observations and Recommendations of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child and UPR recommendations.

The academicians, scholars, researchers, students and NGOs activist must develop thesis theoretical, conceptual and empirical work to analyze and understand the current state of child rights in the country. Researchers must share their recommendation with relevant stakeholders to enhance the child protection standards in the country said Prof. Dr. Aliya H. Khan, Dean Faculty of Social Sciences (QAU) Islamabad.

Mr. Stefano Gatto, Deputy Head of European Union Delegation said that The EU welcomes Pakistan’s ratification of most core international human rights conventions. Strong political leadership can now ensure that these commitments are effectively implemented. Education – especially for girls – is essential. He emphasized how the GSP+ trade preference scheme is a winwinopportunity, enhancing economic growth for Pakistan through increased market access tothe EU, while acting as a powerful incentive to strengthen the two sides’ political cooperationand improve the human rights situation. He highlighted the EU’spreparedness to work closely with Pakistan on all of these issues.

Barrister Zafarullah Khan, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister of Pakistan and the Chief Guest apprised the participants of the conference of the steps been taken by the Government of Pakistan for the implementation of the UNCRC and for improving the state of child rights in Pakistan. Dr. Tariq Fazal Chaudhry, MNA from Islamabad from the ruling PML-N, assured that government of Pakistan will look into all pending bills related to child rights will be enacted.

The inaugural session was followed by eight parallel thematic sessions on various aspects of child rights which were lead by prominent thematic experts and where researchers from across Pakistan both from academia and the civil society shared their papers. Sessions were focusing on General Measures of Implementation, Right to Survival, Right to Development, Right to Participation and Right to Protection. Prominent among speakers were Prof. Dr. Bandana Purkayastha from the US, Ijaz Muhammad Khan from the KP Child Protection and Welfare Commission, Dr. Shahzad Mithani, Dr. Qudsia Uzma of Save the Children, Mr. Safdar Raza of Plan Pakistan, Zulfiqar Shah of PILER, Mr. Salim Malik and Mr. IftikharMubarik from CRM Punjab.

In his closing remarks Mr. Arshad Mahmood, Director Advocacy and Child Rights Governance, Save the Children, said that research oriented institutions, where students are expected to peruse empirical knowledge must create and promote indigenous sociological knowledge on child rights and protection through applying professional research skills to influence social policies to make them child sensitive. Academic institutions must now promote discussion about child rights including children’s right to health and survival, children’s right to education and development, children’s right to protection from abuse, exploitation and neglect and child participation and disseminate their findings on effective forums for their adoption and implementation. Ultimately, this exercise will contribute in improving the state of child rights in the country and identifying strategies and areas for effective implementation of the provisions of the UNCRC in Pakistan.Students and researchers in our society are now required to be sensitive and  creativein this era of  rapidly growing knowledge for comprehensive understanding of various aspects of child rights following modern trends in social sciences to grasp visualize and conceptualize them in a systematic way said Mr. Arshad Mahmood.

Dr. Muhammad Zaman, Chairman Department of Sociology, Qaid-e-Azam University thanked the Child Rights Movement Pakistan, Save the Children and all panelists and presenters for their contributions and assured that the University will continue it’s discourse for the promotion and protection of child rights in Pakistan.