The term “child labour” is generally defined as work that deprives children of their childhood and is harmful to their physical and mental development. In its extreme forms, it involves children being enslaved and exposed to serious hazards and illnesses often at a very early age. Millions of children around the world are trapped in child labour consequently depriving them of their childhood, health and education. Unfortunately, Pakistan is also one of those countries where child labour is rampant. As per the International Labour Organisation estimates in a 2012 survey, 12.5 million children in Pakistan are involved in child labour.
In order to address this alarming situation, the promise by the Chief Minister Punjab Muhammad Shehbaz Shairf to end child labour from the province sounds good as child labour is a crime against humanity. Although the government has taken many revolutionary steps and is providing a stipend of Rs 1,000 per month to the children working at brick kilns in addition to other educational facilities like books, uniform etc. however more needs to be done. Nevertheless, the exemplary package by the government to equip the children working at brick kilns with education shows the government’s firm resolve to rid the province from child labour.
Since child labour perpetuates poverty, unemployment, illiteracy, and other social problems therefore, the government now must act with integrity in fulfilling its promise otherwise only words will not do anything. Moreover, there is also a need to realize that children are the flowers of heaven and they are the beauty of this world hence, awareness must be raised and the attention of parents ought to be diverted to the education of their children. It is hoped that the government will keep its words and child labour will be eliminated from the province and children working at brick kilns will be equipped with education so that they may become great builders of the nation.
Syed Ali Qasim