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Pakistan’s economy, repute linked with polio eradication: PM

Prime Minister Imran Khan Friday urged the nation to join the government’s anti-polio efforts to ensure the uninterrupted journey of the national economic development and for building a positive image of the country.

Addressing the launching ceremony of the National Immunization Campaign here, the prime minister said the eradication of polio virus is vital for both the children as well as the future of the whole nation.

During the three-day drive starting on December 16, around 39.6 million children will be vaccinated across the country by around 260,000 vaccinators. The campaign is being held in what is called the low season in which the virus usually weakens due to winter and is eliminated through such vaccination drives.

The prime minister, who earlier also administered polio drops to the children, advised the mothers, having children of up to five years age, should approach the vaccination centers personally in case they were missed by the vaccination teams.

He said unfortunately, Pakistan is among two countries infected with polio virus in the world. Terming the polio workers heroes, he said they have sacrificed a lot in their endeavor to purge the country of the polio virus. They had been target killed by the militants and also braved harsh weather conditions and visited risky areas to vaccinate the children, he added.

The prime minister told the gathering that the spread of polio virus in Pakistan could have serious repercussions particularly for the workers going abroad for earning besides discouraging the tourists to visit the country. He said amid the national economy getting stability, increasing exports and enriching the country’s positive outlook, it is essential to eradicate the polio to continue the pace of national development. The prime minister also thanked the donors for extending their cooperation to Pakistan in its course of becoming a polio free nation.

Separately, Prime Minister Imran Khan said the provision of safe environment to children is not only the responsibility of government but that of every individual of society as well, and the government would take all possible measures in that respect. “The children are the future of a society. Crimes against the future of society and especially sexual abuse of innocent children are unfortunate and shameful for the whole society,” he said while presiding over a high-level meeting about the effective control of child-related crimes, particularly their sexual abuse.

The prime minister pointed out that in the era of modern technology, an enormous increase in the sexual crimes against children has been witnessed. Most of the parents, owing to some social reasons or different compulsions, did hesitate from timely informing the police or registration of cases, which not only helped the criminals escape from the law but also destroyed the lives of affected children, he added.

The meeting was attended by Minister for Education Shafqat Mehmood, Minister for Human Rights Dr Shireen Mazari, Special Assistant on Accountability Shehzad Akbar, Secretary Interior Yousaf Naseem Khokhar, provincial inspectors general of police (IGPs) and senior officers of the Ministry of Interior and provincial home departments.

The prime minister was given a detailed briefing about the crimes against children with particular focus on sexual abuse, child-related sexual material, some recent unfortunate incidents and the administrative measures to check such crimes.

Additional Inspector General of Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) Punjab, while giving details and facts about the Zainab case, Chunian case and Rawalpindi case, the percentage of crimes against children in Punjab and presenting the unfortunate incidents like those of Chunian and Qasur as a case study, briefed the meeting about the measures being taken at provincial level to check such incidents and crimes. The meeting reviewed the legal, social, societal, economical and other aspects regarding the sexual abuse of children and deliberated in detail the measures taken so far at federal and provincial levels to curb such incidents and crimes.

The prime minister was told that a Special Monitoring Cell had been established to keep an eye on the crimes against children in the Punjab province, besides a thorough review of such heinous crimes and child missing incidents so as to ensure their control. He was told that the system was being further streamlined for the early receipt of DNA reports as well.

The prime minister was informed that as per his direction, ‘Apna Bacha’ mobile application has been developed so that the report of missing children could be instantly conveyed to all the IGPs and senior officials. It was decided in the meeting that a National Crime Database regarding crimes, particularly those of the people involved in the crimes against children, would be tabulated at the national level in the Ministry of Interior, which would be available to all the federal and provincial law enforcing institutions.

The prime minister directed the Ministry of Human Rights to finalize, in consultation and coordination with the Ministry of Interior and provincial governments, a National Action Plan to check crimes against children within two weeks so that not only a national-level crackdown against the child-related sexual material could be launched but also all the stakeholders, while reviewing all aspects of such crimes, could be assigned the relevant tasks and responsibilities with time-lines. He directed to further strengthen the cyber-crime wing of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) so that the complaints and cases regarding cybercrimes could be addressed as early as possible.

The prime minister directed to present recommendations for further strengthening the laws under the National Action Plan so as to ensure the provision of safe environment to children and the people involved in the crimes against children could be penalized. He also directed to make recommendations for early completion of the cases related to crimes against children and saving the affected children and their families from any hurdles and humiliation. Besides the measures for control and protection, special focus should also be given on the aspect of rehabilitation of children affected by such crimes, he added.

The prime minister urged the civil society and media to play their effective role for the protection of children, especially from sexual crimes so that not only children got aware about their rights but awareness could also be created at the levels of parents and society.

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