ISLAMABAD - Minister for Law, Justice and Human Rights Senator Pervaiz Rashid has said that Pakistan stands firm in its commitment and accords top priority to children in ensuring their survival, protection, development and participation rights.

He expressed these views in his message issued in connection with the Universal Children's Day being observed in Pakistan like other parts of the world on Friday. "It is heartening to note that Pakistan joins the international community to celebrate the Day with great fervor and enthusiasm," he added.

Celebration of this Day, he said, reminds us our obligations and commitments for the rights of our children.

At the regional level, Pakistan is also signatory to the SAARC Convention on Regional Arrangements for the Promotion of Child Welfare in South Asia; and SAARC Convention on Preventing and Combating Trafficking in Women and Children for Prostitution, he added.

Despite the fact that Pakistan is facing many challenges, the minister said, a number of policy, legislative, administrative and programmatic measures have been taken by the Ministry of Law, Justice and Human Rights for the well-being of children which demonstrate our strong commitments in this regard.

Pervaiz Rashid said that at the South Asian Regional level, Pakistan is playing a leading role in implementation of the Regional agenda of the South Asia Initiative to End Violence Against Children (SAIEVAC), an apex body of the SAARC.

He said a joint work plan is being implemented which is based on the five thematic areas of the SAIEVAC i.e. Child Marriages, Child Labour, Child Trafficking, Child Abuse and Exploitation and Corporal Punishment.  This year together with UNICEF, a national campaign had been launched to address the corporal punishment of children, he added.

In order to effectively address the child protection issues, the minister said, all the stakeholders must put their efforts to ensure healthy growth and development of children.

"This is our national duty to protect the interests of children and provide them equal opportunities. I hope that the relevant UN Agencies, corporate sector, civil society organizations and media will play proactive role in creating a protective environment for children," he remarked.