Children in armed conflicts

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More than 300,000 children under 18 are fighting in armed conflicts in more than thirty countries all over the world. More than 25 countries continue to legally permit the voluntary recruitment of 16 and 17 year-olds, putting them at risk of institutionalised bullying, sexual abuse and hazardous training activities. Pakistan is party to United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child which emphasises the importance of protection of children under 18 from direct hostilities and armed conflict (Article 38). There is a strong need in Pakistan that the government should take all feasible measures to tackle the issue of child militancy and to protect children from falling into the trap of such people who then use them for militancy purposes.
Pakistan needs to ratify Optional Protocol on Involvement of Children in Armed Conflicts of the United Nation Convention on the Rights of the Children (UN CRC) which we have signed on Sept 26, 2001 but to date we have not yet ratified it (which means that it does not have any legal implications). This will surely give better protection to children and decisive action can be taken to prevent them from getting involved in any such cruel activities which not only affect their own lives but unwantedly become a threat to other lives as well.
MOHAMMED IMTIAZ AHMED
Islamabad