ISLAMABAD   -  Pakistan on Friday called upon the international community to be sensitive to the plight of oppressed children in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK) and urged India to immediately stop its illegal and inhuman policies and practices that were in contravention of its own obligations under the Convent6ion on Rights of Children (CRC).

“On the World Children’s Day, the plight of children in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK) should not be forgotten. These children, living in one of the world’s largest prison, deserve urgent attention of the international community, particularly the United Nations,” Foreign Office Spokesperson Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri said in a statement issued here.

He said the over fifteen-month long physical and digital siege with frequent incidences of house demolitions, arbitrary detentions and use of force, including through pellet guns, had traumatized children in IIOJK and denied their basic rights to life, education and health.

 “On the occasion of World Children’s Day, commemorated each year on 20 November to mark the anniversary of the adoption of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Child (CRC), Pakistan reaffirms the right of every child to grow, learn, play and flourish in a safe, responsive and friendly environment, free of distress, hunger, fear and oppression,” the Spokesperson added.

He said that as a party to the CRC and its two optional Protocols, Pakistan was committed to upholding the promotion and protection of human rights of all children and fulfilling its national and international obligations in that regard.

The Spokesperson mentioned that Pakistan had undertaken a range of institutional and legal measures to eliminate exploitation of children and their discrimination based on gender, religion and ethnicity. 

 “In August this year, Prime Minister Imran Khan inaugurated the Ehsas Nashonuma Programme to provide food and nutrition to the underprivileged children and prevent their malnourishment and stunting of growth,” he added.

“Presently, 22 Nashonuma Centres are working in 9 districts. By the end of this year, the programme will be expanded to 52 centres in 12 districts. The districts have been chosen on the basis of prevailing rate of stunting,” the Spokesperson mentioned.

Under separate streams of Ehsas Programme, free education and scholarships were provided to the children of families living below the poverty line, he said. “These programmes prioritize focus on the girl child,” he added. The Spokesperson said that as the COVID-19 pandemic had highlighted multifaceted challenge for children in developing countries, a child’s vulnerability increased when the family faced rising debts, unemployment, poverty and disease.  “This year’s ‘World Children’s Day’ should serve as a solemn reminder to reinforce the global resolve for mitigating the health and socioeconomic impact of COVID-19 pandemic on children,” he added.