LAHORE – Representatives of the government, Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry, national and international non-government organisations (NGOs) made a firm resolve to help curb child labour in Pakistan during a conference – 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 MPA Ilyas Ansari, Punjab Social Welfare Board chairperson Kiran Imran Dar, International Labour Organisation (ILO) programme officer Sagheer Bhukhari, KM Nouman, Zaki Ahmad Khan, Kashif Anwar, Syed Hasnaat Shah, Raja Abbas Ali, Ch Yaqoob and media analyst Shabbir Sarwar were prominent.
The conference was jointly organised by the Lahore Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Employer Federation of Pakistan, Labour Welfare Department and the International Labour Organisation here.
The house passed a resolution unanimously, which states: “this house requests European Union countries and the G-20 countries to come in and aid to Pakistan through ILO to initiate and extensive programme in Pakistan to reduce figure of 60% plus who are living below the poverty line."
Speaking on the occasion, MPA Ilyas Ansari said that the Punjab government was making concerted efforts to decrease child labour with the help of other stakeholders. He said the government was issuing social welfare cards to the parents whose children were not working in order to discourage child labour in the province.
Tariq Misbah said that the child labour issue was not only against the human rights but also directly linked to the exports. In the pretext of GSP Plus status from the European Union, Pakistan has to utilize all resources to eliminate the issue of child labour as European countries have set strict standards as far as child labour was concerned, he said.
EFP President Khawaja Nauman said that the child labour was not a recent issue. According to statistics, 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 the federal and provincial governments, International Labour Organisation, chambers, employers and workers organisation were playing their due role to address this serious issue. 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.
“We should start practical steps from our homes by stopping discrimination and employing poor children to eliminate child labour,” Kiran Dar said. Stressing the need for launching campaigns and projects to eliminate bonded child labour through education and other social services, Tariq Misbah said that all segments of society should play their due role to this regard.
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. Raja Abbas gave a comprehensive presentation on the practical contribution of his NGO with the financial assistance of ILO and technical support of the EFP.