It will be 25 years since Pakistan became a signatory on 12 December 1990 to the Convention on the “Rights of the Child”. The Convention is very eloquent about applying rights to children equally and ensuring that they survive, grow, participate and fulfil their potential. In Pakistan, the Convention is only enforceable if it is adopted through domestic legislation but this has not been done and the Convention cannot be invoked in any domestic court of law. What we do have is a host of non-unified federal and provincial regulations on issues of family law and child welfare. While the National Commission for Child Welfare and Development (NCCWD) oversees the application of the Convention in Pakistan, the country has enacted laws to limit child labour and indentured servitude, 11 million children aged four to fourteen still work illegally, under squalid conditions.

The Constitution of Pakistan provides for free and compulsory education for children aged five to sixteen but Pakistan still has one of the highest illiteracy rates in the world. It is important to understand that though we have a plethora of laws, we are still finding it challenging, to provide and facilitate for the most defenceless amongst us. With poverty, that forces children to pick tools, rather than books and a deadly rampant disease around them, all laws that are meant for the protection and transformation of children into healthy, productive adults become dormant and hence useless.

BARRISTER MOBEEN SHAH,

United Kingdom, October 31.