September 28, 2023
In a significant and determined effort to address child protection, Islamic Relief Pakistan recently organized a vibrant panel discussion in Islamabad. This event brought together a diverse group of experts, advocates, and stakeholders from various fields, uniting them in a crucial dialogue focused on the rights of children. The main objective of this event was to highlight the contemporary challenges children encounter, particularly in terms of child protection, and to examine successful approaches to ensure their welfare. The overarching theme was the creation of an equitable and inclusive environment, one that secures a future filled with promise, compassion, and unity for all children.
The core of the discussion centered on the urgent need to prioritize child protection in actions and decisions made by individuals, organizations, and policymakers alike. The event underscored the importance of fostering nurturing environments for children, both in the physical world and the digital realm.
The distinguished presence of Chief Guest Mehnaz Akber Aziz, Former Member of the National Assembly of Pakistan, lent further weight to the event. She lauded the efforts of Islamic Relief and passionately urged everyone to work towards creating safe spaces for children, not only in the real world but also in the increasingly relevant cyberspace.
Sharafat Ali Chaudhary, Advocate High Court & Legal Advisor for the National Commission on the Status of Women, elucidated on Pakistan’s legal framework, particularly section 328A, which addresses psychological harm to children. He stressed the significance of taking action under section 376 when witnessing crimes against children, emphasizing that inaction is also punishable.
Khalid Naeem, Member of the National Commission on the Rights of Children, drew attention to the challenges faced by differently-abled children in Pakistan, particularly the lack of affordable resources and facilities. His remarks shed light on the often-neglected needs of this vulnerable group.
The panelists, a lineup of respected figures in their respective fields, brought invaluable perspectives to the table. Dr. Akbar Nasir Khan, Inspector General of Islamabad Police, shone a spotlight on the issue of domestic child labor, posing a thought-provoking question to attendees: “Why is a child the same age as your own child serving you and your child?” This highlighted the norm of employing children for domestic chores instead of providing them the opportunity to receive an education.
Fe’reeha Idrees, a prominent Journalist & Anchor, highlighted the role of media in shaping cultural values and denouncing malpractices such as child marriages and domestic child labor. She emphasized the importance of not normalizing harmful practices and encouraged society to challenge and question them.
Dr. Faryal Umbreen, Assistant Professor at the International Islamic University, underscored how religion can shape, guide, and protect children from harm. She emphasized that Islamic laws and principles provide a robust protective mechanism for children and quoted the Holy Prophet (PBUH), who referred to children as the “flowers of Paradise.”
Mr. Asif Sherazi, Country Director of Islamic Relief Pakistan, showcased the organization’s flagship program, the ‘Orphan Support Program,’ which started by supporting 30 orphans and has now grown to assist 7,000 orphans. His presentation reaffirmed Islamic Relief’s commitment to the welfare of children.
In conclusion, the panel discussion in Islamabad served as a powerful catalyst for change in the realm of child protection. It illuminated the pressing issues children face, explored legal and cultural dimensions, and, most importantly, called upon individuals and institutions to prioritize the safety and well-being of children in Pakistan, thus paving the way for a brighter and safer future for the nation’s youth.