Children in Pakistan have to cope with a plethora of challenges; lack of access to education coupled with low learning levels; poor health conditions; a near absence of protection for destitute and vulnerable children; early and forced marriages; dismissal conditions in juvenile jails; trafficking; exploitation and continued employment in hazardous occupations.
Moreover, the children from FATA are an integral part of Pakistan’s society and they are part of the fabric that will be its future, it is gravely disappointing to see that they continue to pay the price for the conflict they never created which renders them homeless and impedes their future.
Commitments made by Pakistan by ratifying the UNCRC, and by adopting child-related laws and policies are important first steps to realize children’s rights, but will remain empty promises unless translated into allocations in provincial and national budgets and efficient public spending for children. We must have reformed and improved legal frameworks in view of implementing the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). Moreover, concrete steps are needed to implement laws formulated by the provinces to nurture an environment where children are secure, empowered and valued.
Pakistan as a nation cannot afford to have more incidents like the Army Public School tragedy. As world citizens, we must raise our voices not only at the national level but the international level as well.