The issue of child labour does not catch major headlines, or result in mass movements. Its lack of a place in public discourse is a reminder of how the war against children in Pakistan goes on, creating for Pakistan a foundation of poverty, cruelty and abuse that will result in an unskilled labour force and an uneducated population in the future.

In order to eliminate all kinds of labour including child labour, seven projects, which are being implemented by provincial governments, were put in place for different parts of the country excluding the Islamabad Capital Territory (as if there is no child labour problem in Islamabad). Of the total approved funds of Rs5.788 billion, the government has released a sum of Rs912 million to fight the menace, only about 15% of funds available. This problem of on-going unfunded projects exists in all provinces. In Punjab, the government released only Rs111.9million of the approved Rs196.9million for “elimination of bonded labour in four districts of Punjab”. In Sindh, an amount of Rs54million was approved for a child labour survey and not a single transfer has been made yet. The list goes on.

Admittedly, the issue does not make for a gripping mandate that can be used to get more votes for a political party, nor does it create ratings on talk shows, but the physical and mental health of our children is the only thing that really matters. In the Global Slavery Index 2013, Pakistan comes third, after Mauritania and Haiti, in the prevalence of child labour. The government has failed to conduct a child labour survey since 1996, which made it difficult to establish details of children working in different sectors in the country. What is worse is that there is no vocal demand for such measures to be taken. Officials and business owners would rather let the situation continue as is, and it will since children are a voiceless section of our society.