Failing Them Again: #Bringourchildrenback
When we sign any document, we are bound to follow it. However, it seems that the international conventions that have been signed are not meant to be followed. It is a matter of pride for us that our very own Islamic Republic of Pakistan, our motherland, was the sixth country which signed and later ratified the United Nation Convention On The Rights Of Children (CRC) and committed to ensure absolute provision of rights to children, including the right to life, right to survival (a provision which was added to end female infanticide), right to “security” (from all kinds of abuses, traffic and exploitation; and to remain with families), right to remain protected and unharmed even in the state of war, etc. These are the core principles of the Convention. The same rights have also been promised by the supreme law of Pakistan to its children. But it is shameful to note that the state has not managed to keep a single commitment made by it to the people of Pakistan through the Constitution and to the world at large through the CRC. In short, our children continue to live in a vulnerable state!
In a democracy, it rarely happens that any such law which violates fundamental rights gets passed. But we, the citizens of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, did so in 2014, because our future was under threat. It would not be wrong to say that the Protection of Pakistan Act 2014 which was supported by all political parties (another rare case and indeed historic) was passed for our children, to prevent another tragedy like the terrorist attack on Army Public School (APS), Peshawar. Yet, we failed to prevent a following attack on Bacha Khan University.
While the armed forces of Pakistan were wholly absorbed in Operation Zarb-e-Azab against those waging war against the state of Pakistan, the miscreants went so far as to not spare the innocent children. Meanwhile the representatives of the government of the self-proclaimed shining province of Punjab, were busy defending those who sexually abused children of an entire town. The culprits also filmed this heinous crime and blackmailed parents to give money to prevent the visuals from going viral on the internet. So much noise was created when this was reported, but the Kasur tragedy (which was an act of “terrorism” and in no way was less vicious than the APS tragedy) is now a past and closed transaction. It goes without saying that no action has been taken against the culprits to date. The culprits, who are backed by the office bearers of a political party most loved by the people of Punjab, are yet to be punished. Maybe the number of 280 victims is not a lot for them to act?
To keep a special check on the law and order situation of Punjab’s capital, Lahore, a force called the Dolphin Force, which cost millions, was formed by Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif – yet the number of children kidnapped alone from Lahore is a horrifying number of 323. If this is happening in the provincial capital, what about the rest of the province? In the last 6 months, 1800 children have been kidnapped. It is ignominious that it has been brought to our notice only recently. 1800 bright stars of the future of Pakistan, 1800 mothers, 1800 families. Their lives get ruined, but it is not a big deal for the authorities of Punjab. For Ayaz Sadiq, Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz’s MNA from Lahore and also the Speaker of the National Assembly of Pakistan, “it is routine”. According to the Inspector General Punjab Police, Mushtaq Ahmad Sukhera, it is “not a serious issue”. Opinion of the rest of the authorities is not different. And our apex court, which takes suo moto action when prices of samosas increase, and gets pugnacious (because considers it “disrespect”) when an animal enters its boundaries, finally considered the matter of the kidnapping of 1800 children to be worth a suo moto action. Thanks a lot to them!
Before of the apex court, the government of Punjab has presented this issue to be more of a tiff between parents and children, owing to which children later run away from their homes. If so, one wonders who is then removing their organs and throwing them later in the graveyards. Children themselves? Or maybe the number 1800 too is not a huge one to compel anyone to act?
Our children are either being killed by terrorists, or kidnapped and then later killed for organs, or sexually abused. In all cases, parents are being blamed by the authorities. While much light has been shed on this issue since last week, this too will become a matter of the “past”. The only thing that has kept this “serious” matter alive is the campaign #BringOurChildrenBack by Pakistan People’s Party, which is being led by Bakhtawar Bhutto Zardari personally.
Our authorities need to know that “Doraemon” is not a bigger threat than terrorists, rapists and kidnappers. The mere act of adding a few more years to imprisonment as punishment is not sufficient. Stop asking parents to not let their children go outside. Act to protect. Stop confining our motherland’s future to their homes. Let them live. Re-awaken your National Action Plan (NAP) which has been napping since long. Bring it to Pakistan’s largest province as well. With a heavy heart I am forced to say that Punjab is the hub of these culprits. Stop denying this fact – for our Pakistan, our children.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of CourtingTheLaw.com or any other organization with which she might be associated.