June 14: AN NGO has demanded a ‘comprehensive’ survey of child labour in the country, adding its voice to the growing calls for urgent intervention in a neglected area. Pakistani children have to perpetually wait for attention as their elders vie with each other for notice. There is, sadly, far too much evidence of how this country is neglecting its young ones to the point that it sometimes appears that we as a nation no longer have the sympathy we once possessed for our vulnerable segments. Many of those who feel this way have long been frustrated with a system that offers no quick remedies and that shows only a slow improvement in the most sensitive area of child labour. The progress that is visible lies most notably in greater awareness, even if sympathy is often lacking, of the issue as compared to the past. This is something of a feat given that there are many other issues on the state’s priority list that take precedence over the objective of eliminating child labour.
The concerned NGO reminds us that there has been no child labour survey for two decades — the last one was conducted in 1996. To think that a whole generation has come of age in the interlude — the less privileged of its members having to toil in the workshops and in factories and in hidden places that are allowed to exist in the name of cheap labour — is shocking. However, there will be some who are not concerned about the delay in amassing newer details on the state of child labour. Such an exercise could have placed greater demands on our leaders who are otherwise happy to issue a statement or two on child rights or conduct a raid and free a few young souls from bonded labour. They would like to avoid bad publicity for the country. They want to continue pretending that child labour does not exist in the country.’
An Editorial published by Daily Dawn on June 14, 2017