April 12, 2013 has been marked as the International Day for Street Children,’I believe it’s time we started making an effort to solving the many problems faced by these children that we have neglected and forgotten about. A large number of them is roaming the streets, collecting garbage, begging and it’s tragic to note that they are denied their basics needs. Far from being educated, clothed and fed these children are being treated in ways that is unimaginable. Unfortunately, for these street children the luxuries of a childhood, which most children take for granted, such as comfort, peace security have been replaced with unbearable pangs of hunger, a constant longing for fun things to play with, a burning desire for comfort and security, the need for a roof to protect them from the tormenting heat, and a chance at a better life, just once a caring touch, a warm lap.

These children, we very often turn away from or roll up our car windows on, probably desires all these and yet have no help in any form to achieve their basic rights. Karachi, which is home to a vast community of street children, as well as a den for corrupt gangs looking for mules, they are kept as cheap labour. They face domestic abuse, poverty, drugs and crime every day on the streets, where they learn about the harsh realities of life at an early age. Very often one gets to watch these children pushing each other on the streets, windshield wipers in hand or carrying plastic combs and running around the roads, stolen smiles on their faces, and a touch of innocence that has yet to be ripped off. Even more frequently one will witness the desperation on their faces, the confusion in their stance, the unwashed hair, the worn clothes, the darkness of the eyes, the resentment that will come to the surface in time.

Who should we blame the parents who were gracious enough to bring this child into the world and ended their responsibility? The government with its backlog of issues, those have yet to be resolved? The law enforcement agencies, who even in the presence of laws, have no desire to pay heed to them? Or should we blame ourselves, because as a community, we are equally punishable for neglecting these children, especially when every child is equally participating in building the nation’s future.

Then we ask who these terrorists are? How are they bread, not in seminaries but on the streets being treated like animals? I would like to request the government and the community to kindly address this pressing issue as unless we work together to resolve it, Pakistan will continue to providing the paraphernalia for a bomb that will rip apart the safe forts that we are busy building for our future.

AMNA BILLOO,

Karachi, April 13.