Another welcome initiative of Shahbaz Sharif

WELL known for conceiving and executing mega development projects, Shahbaz Sharif, Chief Minister Punjab, this time around has taken rather a sacred duty on his shoulders by vowing to eliminate all forms of child labour — the curse that causes mental, physical, moral and social harm to the little ones.
Despite presence of several laws prohibiting child labour and signatory to relevant international conventions, this social curse remains one of the major problems afflicting the country and its children, in millions, aged between four and fourteen continue to keep the country’s factories and brick kilns operating in rather squalid and harsh conditions. Shahbaz Sharif’s avowal to give books and pens instead of bricks in the hands of innocent children, is a step in the right direction to free the society from the clutches of debt bonded labour – the modern form of slavery in which poor families are tricked or trapped into working for very little or no pay. As poverty is the primary cause behind the child labour, the Provincial government has announced a comprehensive financial package in order to woo the poor families to send their children working at brick kilns to the schools. Besides declaring strict punishments for owners of brick kilns employing children, the Chief Minister has called for evolving a plan to eliminate child labour from other professions as well like hotels and workshops. All these steps have earned him applause from the European Union and International Labour Organisation. Given the track record, we are sure that Shahbaz Sharif will take this sacred task which he himself believes as an act of worship, to its logical conclusion. As the problem is widespread and prevalent in all parts of the country, we will also urge other Provincial governments to wake up and follow the suit of Punjab and launch the same kind of robust and effective campaign against child and bonded labour which is actually a scar on a Muslim society. Time has come for all to root out this brutal form of human exploitation. For this, relevant laws including Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act 1992 should be applied in letter and spirit and could be amended further to punish those involved in any kind of bonded labour.

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