LAHORE: Representatives of Punjab parliament, government, Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry and international and national NGOs made a firm resolve to help curb child labour in Pakistan during a conference on “Extend Social Protection: Combat Child Labour,” held in connection with the World Day Against Child Labour at LCCI here on Monday.
LCCI Acting President Mian Tariq Misbah presided over the seminar while Parliamentary Secretary of Social Welfare Department & MPA Muhammad Ilyas Ansari, Punjab Social Welfare Board chairperson Kiran Imran Dar, International Labour Organisation (ILO) program officer Saghir Bhukhar, President Employers Federation of Pakistan K.M. Nouman, Vice President Zaki Ahmad Khan, LCCI Vice President Kashif Anwar Director General of Labour Welfare Syed Hasnaat Shah, President Association of Network for Company Empowerment (ANCE) Raja Abbas Ali, media analyst Shabbir Sarwar, Ch. Yaqoob, were prominent.
The conference was jointed organized by the Lahore Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Employer Federation of Pakistan, Labour Welfare Department of Punjab Government and International Labour Organization here on Monday.
Speaking on the occasion, Parliamentary Secretary of Social Welfare Department & MPA Muhammad Ilyas Ansari said the Punjab government was making concerted efforts to decrease child labour with the help of other stakeholders. He said was issuing social welfare cards to the parents, whose children are not working in order to discourage child labour in the province.
LCCI Acting President Mian Tariq Misbah said that child labour issue was not only against the human rights but also directly linked to the exports. He said that in the pretext of GSP Plus Status from the European Union, we have to utilize our all resources to eliminate the issue of child labour as European countries have set strict standards as far as child labour is concerned.
The LCCI Acting President informed the participants that business community of Pakistan is very much aware of this dilemma and putting in its best efforts. He said that there is a need to be consistent and much aggressive to root out this problem with least possible loss to economic conditions of the poor.
Employers Federation of Pakistan President Khawaja Muhammad Nauman said that child labour is not a recent issue. According to statistics, he said, Pakistan has a population of more than 180 million with a proportion of about 43% children below 15 years of age while more than 60% of the population living below the poverty line that is one of the biggest reasons of child labour.
He said that International Labour Organization, federal and provincial governments, chambers, employers and workers organization are playing their due role to address this serious issue.
ILO senior program officer Sagheer Bukhari, who was representing the ILO country director, said unavailability of reliable data was a serious problem and a highly proactive role of all stakeholders was required to help control the child labour in Pakistan.
Kiran Dar said that, “we should start practical steps from our homes to by stopping discrimination and employing poor children to eliminate child labour from Pakistan.”
While stressing the need for launching campaigns and projects to eliminate bonded child labour through education and other social services, Mian Tariq Misbah said that all segments of society should play their due role to this regard.
He said that child labour is primarily a social problem of the families and the communities, but its countrywide prevalence has become a national problem for developing economies. He said that there is no denial that every child deserves to sit in a classroom and get access to modern day education where he or she may enjoy the bliss of childhood.
The LCCI Acting President said that the fact remains that our nation is plunged in poverty and lack of resources. He said that parents in third world countries love their children as much as the parents of the developed world. If it had been possible for them to send their children to school, they would have definitely done so. It is preferable for them to work rather than being forced to resort to stealing, begging and selling drugs for sustenance.
LCCI Vice President Kashif Anwar in his address said that Western world has recognized and appreciated the issue from the angle of the developing economies. The facilitating role of International Labour Organization cannot be over emphasized. He said that Child labour was a universal problem and a family being a unit of a society has a direct impact on the socio-economic development of a country. Therefore, the best course of action through which it can be tackled is a phased strategy.”
Media Analyst Shabbir Sarwar stressed sensitizing journalists and making them stakeholders through concerted efforts in order to keep them awakened and help highlight the issue by setting the media agenda.
ANCE President Raja Abbas gave a comprehensive presentation on the practical contribution of his NGO with the financial assistance of ILO and technical support of Employers Federation of Pakistan.
In the end the house passed a resolution unanimously, which states: “Resolved that this house requests European Union countries and the G-20 countries to come in and aid to Pakistan through ILO to initiate and extensive program in Pakistan to reduce figure of 60 % plus who are living below the poverty line.
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