ISLAMABAD - Council of Islamic Ideology chief Maulana Muhammad Khan Sheerani yesterday said that abandoned children were being presented over television channels like ‘items’.

Addressing a news conference after a three-day meeting of the CII, Sheerani said the state should protect the rights of the abandoned children instead of letting them fall into wrong hands.

“They are not items who are advertised. They are human beings and should be given their rights,” he said, adding the state was responsible for taking care of such children.

The CII chief said the miseries of the children should be kept secret. “These issues should not be made public,” he added.

Pakistan is set to ratify The Hague Convention on International Child Abduction, which was adopted in 1980. The convention is a multilateral treaty that addresses parental child abduction by facilitating cooperation between central authorities of the signatory countries to expedite the return of the child to the country of their habitual residence.

The Council also held discussions on The Hague Convention on Parental Responsibility and Protection of Children, sent by the Law Ministry and ruled that Pakistan should not sign it.

Sheerani said that certain clauses of the Hague Convention were contradictory to the Constitution of Pakistan.

Pakistan has recently introduced a bill that criminalises sexual assault against minors and child pornography and trafficking. The amendment to the penal code also increased the age of criminal responsibility from seven to 10 years.

Under the legislation, sexual assault will be punishable by up to seven years in prison. Previously, only rape was criminalised. Child pornography, which was previously not mentioned in the law, will be punishable by seven years in prison and a fine of Rs 700,000. The amendment also criminalises child trafficking within the country.

The country was rocked in August last year by a major paedophilia scandal when it was revealed that hundreds of pornographic videos of children from the village of Hussain Khanwala in Punjab had been created and were being circulated. About 20 arrests were made, but only the acts of rape and sodomy were punishable by law.

Sheerani underlined the need for giving all due respect to the abandoned children and newborns by keeping their miseries secret instead of ‘advertising’ them.

He said the body had taken a serious note of a television show in which, according to him, such children were presented to the participants like gifts or ordinary items.

He said the Muslim society was duty-bound to take care of the abandoned children and 'advertising' them in TV shows was against the Islamic teachings and humanity.

Sheerani called the television show a 'heinous act,' condemned it and regretted that no organization dealing with the children rights had taken notice of the programme, which was conducted even in the presence of some Ulema (clerics).

The CII chief said the council had reviewed the 75-article bill for protecting children rights and approved it with certain amendments in words.

However, the CII chairman said, it had been recommended to include in the bill, articles to prevent children's smuggling, using them in crimes and their physical abuse, for final approval in the next meeting.

In the recent past, Sheerani said some TV channels had made fun of the CII, its chairman and members, who were performing their constitutional duties in line with the Quran and Sunnah.

He said the council had decided to write letters to the President and Prime Minister asking them to take notice, as per the Pakistan Electronic Regulatory Authority rules, against such television channels, anchors and analysts, who, according to him, kept insulting the constitutional body for several days.

Commenting on other agenda items of the meeting, the chairman said the council appreciated the government efforts to include the Quranic subjects and teachings in school syllabus.

He said the council took a detailed review of the syllabus compiled by the Ilm Foundation and appreciated its efforts.

But the Chairman said there were different flaws in the compiled books so it advised the experts of the foundation to review and improve the syllabus.

He said the foundation had also been directed to compile books containing 'Madni Surahs' of the Quran (Chapters of the Quran revealed to Hazrat Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) during His stay in Madinah). “After this the council will be in the position to comment on the syllabus,” he added.

The 205th meeting of the council was chaired by Maulana Sheerani and attended by members Maulana Imadaullah, Dr Noor Ahmed Shahataz, Samia Raheel Qazi, Abdullah, Manzoor Hussain Gillani, M Raza Khan, Sahibzada Zahid Mehmood Qasmi, Iftikhar Hussain Naqvi, Ali Muhammad Abu Turab and Abdullah.