Pakistan has made significant progress towards the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) in the past two decades, but serious challenges still remain. To understand what has been achieved and the challenges that remain, let us walk through the CRC’s history in Pakistan. The UNCRC was ratified by the Islamic Republic of Pakistan on 12 December, 1990.

Recent estimates indicate that in Balochistan literacy rate is only 35.16% (male: 42.60%, female: 21.66%); only 24 percent of girls and 41 percent of boys of school age are enrolled at the primary level and more than 50 percent of the children drop out before completing primary education with strikingly low learning achievements. It has been noted in particular that almost half of the enrolled students drop out of school in katchi (entry) grade. The reason behind their dropping out is lack of facilities at schools, corporal punishment and sexual abuse. That the situation of child rights is not satisfactory in the province is evident from the number of incidents of child rights violations reported on daily basis. Last year 22 polio cases were reported and the first case of 2015 was also from Balochistan. Thousands of child laborers and street children were toiling in coalmines and brick kilns and many out of 5000 street children are either scavengers, hawkers or involved in fresh trade. They are facing brutality of the police and general public which damages their self esteem. The immunization coverage for Tb, DPT and polio and measles is still far from satisfactory. New cases of polio continue to emerge and there is a resurge in the cases of tuberculosis. There still exist no official data on the incidence and prevalence of child abuse & neglect. Nearly all forms of child abuse cases exist: cases of sexual assault, gang rape and sodomy, corporal punishment are increasingly being reported. There are no official estimates of children employed as domestic workers.

The government was almost single-minded in its perception of the problem. Children were “in difficult circumstances” as a result of the unresolved poverty and because parents failed to carry out their responsibilities. The understanding that a child's well-being is influenced by a multitude of factors, including societal norms, certain adult lifestyles, and even government policies evolved much later.

In these ways, through denial of access and exposure to maltreatment, too many children in Balochistan are deprived of the most basic human rights: the right to survival, the right to health care and education, the right to protection against violence, exploitation and abuse, the right to participate in making decisions about their lives – rights that are guaranteed by the international conventions to which Pakistan is a State party gaps in the implementation of Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC).

However, the past two years proved to be significant with the approval of three bills/laws that protect child rights including Balochistan Free & Compulsory Education Bill, 2014, Balochistan Borstal Institutions Act, 2014 and Protection of Breast Feeding and Nutrition for Infants and Young Children Act, 2014 that was approved by the provincial assembly of Balochistan. But the pending laws which support child rights including Balochistan Child Welfare & Protection Bill, Prohibition of Corporal Punishment Bill, The Children Employment Amendment Bill and Child Marriages Bill needs attention of our policy makers for further passing of the pending laws.

25 years seems like a long time, but to learn the best ways to safeguard our children, we may need even more. Our children never set any conditions for their birth among us. They have unconditional trust in their prospective caregivers. Therefore, once they are there with us, we are bound by moral obligations as caregivers and legal obligations as citizens to ensure their safety and well-being. At least that’s how I, as an activist, look at my position vis a vis (my) children.