MIRPUR (AJK)-Azad Jammu and Kashmir President Sardar Masood Khan Wednesday called for provision of equal opportunities and enabling environment to the orphans and neglected children to mould them into responsible citizens of the country.

“Taking care of those who have lost one or both parents is our collective social and religious obligation as it is not the will of Allah that they (orphans) remain neglected or are pushed aside in society,” the President said while addressing an Iftar reception hosted by him for orphans in the President House on Wednesday.

The ceremony was attended among others by AJK Minister for Social Welfare Mohtarma Noreen Arif, Secretary General Pakistan Orphan Care Forum, Nisar Ahmed, Director General Anjuman Faizul Islam, Prof Niaz Irfan, Director General Orphan Care Program, Muhammad Irfan Bashir, Secretary General Al-Khidmat Foundation, Aftab Alam Advocate and a large number of orphans kids being supported and sponsored by Pakistan Orphan Care Forum (POCF), an umbrella of orphans- focused non-governmental organizations.

On the occasion, the president emphasized that orphans must not feel, alone, abandoned or neglected, and encouraged the children to grab whatever opportunities they find to excel in education to make their way forward in the society.

He said wars, social and political conflicts, natural calamities, diseases and accidents are some of the causes that leave thousands of children orphans and parentless. People of AJK had experienced one such catastrophe back in 2005 that left thousands of women without husbands and thousands of children parentless, Khan recalled.

“With so many orphans around us, we can feel the pain of being parentless and the pang of a child’s grieving for losing his/her parents more than any other,” he went to say.

Masood Khan said that in a Muslim society, an orphan should get care by others at par with the care one provides to his/her own children by ensuring that all orphans get physical, mental and emotional well-being without any discrimination.

This is what the noble Quran and traditions of our Holy Prophet (Peace and Blessing of Allah Be Upon Him) teach us, the president said and added that the Holy life of our beloved prophet is an example for us who himself was an orphan and taught us to treat the orphans with kindness and compassion.

Earlier in his welcome address, Secretary-General of Pakistan Orphan Care Forum, Nisar Ahmed expressed his profound gratitude to the AJK president for hosting the event that will significantly create awareness about our social responsibilities towards orphans and destitute children.

Terming orphans children as the most valuable asset of the country with whom the country attaches high hope, POCF Secretary-General expressed his satisfaction that hundreds of welfare organisations are running orphans sponsorship programs in AJK and Gilgit/Baltistan with their paltry resources.

“These organisations and individual need support and patronage of the state and the state institutions,” he stressed.

The POCF leader thanked both houses of the parliament for adopting a resolution to declare Ramazan 15th as World Orphan Day and called for similar action by the legislatures of Azad Kashmir and GB to make it the national agenda and raise awareness about the problems being faced by orphans children.