Last Friday afternoon, the scene of the National Assembly, Speaker Raja Parvez Ashraf, some members and children of the National Assembly guests. Before the beginning of the session, it was announced that the proceedings of this assembly will be run by children. I began to wonder what part these children will take in the proceedings of the House.
We have twenty elected members of Parliament who do not speak even once during the five-year assembly. What will these little children say? How will these nuns make lip service? Where the members of the assembly are united to increase their salary and privileges, what problems will these children describe? What will be the conversation of children from street children to elite educational institutions? As the assembly session progressed, my worries subsided. My eyes began to glow with the hopes of a bright Pakistan. I began to see the future of my country as bright as the sun.
In the session of the National Assembly, from the first Noonhal speaker to the last Masoom Khatib Tilak, the conversation of every participant reflected the real problems of children and the future of Pakistan. The first speaker gave a lively talk on the fundamental rights of children, highlighting the class divide in the society. The young speaker asked questions on child labor from the members present in the House. Of course, that child seemed to me more aware of the problems of small flowers than the public representatives sitting in the House.
According to the non-governmental organization Society for the Protection of the Rights of Children, 1 crore 2 lakh children work as laborers across the country. Among them, 6 million children are less than 10 years of age. The most surprising thing here is that the government of Pakistan had collected data on child labor in the state 18 years ago. According to this data, 73 percent boys and 27 percent girls are victims of child labor. Now after two decades, their number has increased manifold.
The next speaker was a girl from a private school, who felt that child marriage was still a big problem today. The world has become a global village, but even today on this planet 50 million girls are married at an early age. According to UNICEF, this number is expected to double by the next decade. Just take the example of Watan Aziz. Our beloved country ranks sixth in the world for child marriage, with 21 percent of girls married below the age of 18 annually, with the highest number in Sindh province. In Pakistan, 13 percent of girls are married off at the age of fourteen. These figures will surely be included in the diaries of our parliamentarians, but they do not have free time from political rhetoric, so this problem of children had to be presented in the House.
Under the Constitution of Pakistan, education is the fundamental right of every citizen, while the state has the responsibility to provide free education to the citizens. But in Pakistan even today two and a half million children are out of school. Arbab Akhtar never thought about these children, but a small speaker was standing on the floor of the National Assembly asking Arbab Akhtar why Pakistan today has the second largest number of out-of-school children in South Asia. ? Why is there an increase in the number of children who drop out of school in Watan Aziz even today? Even today, the state is relying on the private sector instead of fulfilling its responsibility, which has turned education into a business.
I was surprised during this small session of Parliament when a student from an elite school addressed the speaker and began to plead the case of children who were being abused by the whole world. The case of children spreading their hands in the streets and markets. From his car window, he could see the children, who were forced to beg by domestic constraints or by the mafia. Who used to endure people’s reprimands while cleaning car windows or selling gajra. There are thousands of such children in Pakistan. According to the data of one year of 2021 only, 2 thousand 648 children were abducted from Karachi, 1 thousand 219 from Lahore, 892 from Rawalpindi and 660 from Peshawar. By making these kidnapped children disabled, the mafia begs from them, but it doesn’t crawl to the ears of the lords of power. Who supports this mafia? Why is the state failing to protect children? Why is the future of the nation outstretched? These questions are one
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The number of children deprived of parental care in Pakistan has exceeded 42 lakhs. These children are suffering from child labor due to lack of basic education and health facilities. They are sexually abused or they fall into the hands of beggar mafias. In Pakistan, Sweet Homes and Al-Khidmat Foundation are the only organizations that are managing the support and education of these orphans, but out of 4.5 million, only a few thousand people are able to provide basic facilities. On the appeal of innocent children, Speaker National Assembly appealed to all private educational institutions that every educational institution should provide free education to 10 orphans. If private educational institutions implement this appeal, at least 40 to 41 lakh orphans can get education.
Surprisingly, the innocent flowers drew the attention of the decision makers sitting in the power house to the children sleeping with no clothes on, bare feet and hungry bellies. The children asked these representatives that do you not pay attention to our problems because we cannot vote for you? Are we neglected because you have no interest in us? Plazas are built on our sports grounds because the builders fund your political party? He also asked the parents why sons are preferred over daughters. Why are girls ignored? The children also asked the society that why there are differences of race and color in the dear country. The young parliamentarian also knocked on the door of industrialists that why are your industries polluting our environment?
In the one-and-a-half-hour assembly session, the children gave a blunt message to the rulers, MPs, legislators, that we are your future, don’t ignore us, pay attention to us, we will not disappoint you.
Many days have passed but the children’s questions have become a spear and have become embedded in the heart that why do we not pay attention to the problems of children? Why are MPs ignoring children?
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Syed Amjad Hussain Bukhari
Syed Amjad Hussain Bukhari
Blogger is a PhD Scholar in Media Studies. Associated with a private TV channel as Senior Research Officer. They try to write about political, social and social issues. Amjadhbokhari can be contacted on social networking websites.