Children without proper schooling in Pakistan are in their thousands, in fact millions; the situation has become worse due to the absence of state school system, where children can get food as well as sound education. But for some time now, there is another nuisance: militant extremism and its aversion to all kinds of enlightenment particularly girl’s school.
Thankfully, the media is sensitive towards the need to highlight the issue. Its positive coverage gives us a ray of hope, however faint, that with the support of the fourth pillar, further awareness will be spread to bring a positive change in the lives of the children and to protect them from exploitation and dangers from the terrorists.
Pakistan is among those countries which lag behind when it comes to the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. The country still has a long way to go before the provisions of the Convention are reflected in the national laws. Pakistan has laws and ordinances but these are arguably in conflict with principles and provisions of the Convention and secondly what use are any laws when they are not implemented. Over the last two years, a significant number of children particularly girls, stopped going to school owing to the militant threat; hundreds of girls’ school in KPK alone had been bombed.
Reports from conflict areas in KPK reveal that due to continuous attacks by the miscreants, many parents fear for the safety of their children and prefer to keep them at home rather than sending them to school. The attention of both the policymakers and government representatives towards the plight of marginalized and hapless children and their families needs to be drawn. This is where media comes in but still we all need to come together to protect our future generations.
Laws do and can play a significant role but it is obvious that in a situation when the terrorists and their sympathizers such as the clergy are assuming more power than the institutions of the state, a lot more than just passing laws needs to be done.
Confronted by a dilemma like this, to merely talk about rights of children appears frivolous. The situation is worse in KPK and Fata than anywhere else, where in certain parts discouraging and at times forcing girls to shun education has become a norm. That is where the crusade against the forces of retrogression, ignorance and bigotry must begin.
Onaza Ehsan Butt,
Via e-mail, December 26.