If there is one lesson Pakistan should have learned from the Coronavirus Pandemic that is children in Pakistan are still far away from realization of their basic rights. As the pandemic has somewhat subsided in April 2022, the political turmoil in the country has omitted the children from priority checklist of policymakers, media and the masses. Despite being signatory to several international conventions and enacting plethora of national and provincial commitments, Pakistan has struggled to deliver its promises to children. Education, development, health, protection; on all parameters Pakistan ranks among lower countries in the world. Among the children of Pakistan, the estimated 1.5 million children living and working on the streets are the most vulnerable group. Across the world, street children are a human rights concern so much so that April 12 is celebrated every year as International Street Children Day. This day is celebrated with a one point pledge that ‘No Child Deserves to live or work on the streets’. Pakistan has the largest generation of young people ever recorded in national history. Approximately 47 per cent of Pakistan is below the age of 18. At an initial glance, this age group seems to be the biggest asset for the country. However, marred by risks, challenges and lack of opportunities this group is quickly turning in to a huge liability. Majority of Pakistani children live in economically marginalized environment. They remain deprived of necessities like health, hygiene, clean water, and healthy nutrition. They lack fundamental rights such as access to education, birth registration, protection and shelter. The ever-increasing poverty, weak rule of law and weak parenting, pushes these young people towards street life where they are forced to collect garbage, beg, prostitute themselves, take and sell drugs, steal and eventually join criminal outfits. A number of civil society reports provide evidence that street children in Pakistan suffer sexual molestation, assault, rape, and gang-rape. They are exposed to violence and abuse on daily basis, resulting in adverse physical and psychological impact. Young girls on street are often forced in to prostitution and trafficking. Working and roaming in unclean areas and engage in unprotected sexual activities, makes street children prone to HIV infections as seen in the 2019 incident of Ratodero, Sindh. Pakistan’s response to tackle this issue has not been up to the mark. Despite strengthening provincial social welfare departments and inauguration of shelter homes, the situation hasn’t improved. This issue demands special and increased attention to this issue from all sections of the federal and provincial government, legislators, judiciary, law enforcement agencies, corporate sector, academia and non-profits. The most immediate need is a national survey to gauge the real magnitude of this issue. The 1.5 million figure is almost 2 decades old and hence inadequate to result in any meaningful response. Because street children are more than a number. The reasons they join the street and the challenges they face on the street are as important as their numbers. Pakistan also needs to ensure equal and affordable education for the children as mentioned by Article 25A of the Constitution. Education is a key tool to minimize the number of out of school children to reduce their tendency of joining street life. Unfortunately with an estimated 22.8 million children out of school, Pakistan is the 2nd worst country in the world and this figure has increased more after the coronavirus pandemic. It’s about time that this issue is taken seriously because education remains the only single tool to pull an entire family out of poverty cycle. To combat the poverty challenge, street children and their families need to be included in social safety nets such as Ehsaas Program so they are not forced to send their children out to work. Similarly, there’s a need to providing safe shelter, non-formal education, psychological support, vocational training, and access to justice for the children, while they are on streets. Political turmoil in Pakistan are as old as the country itself but unfortunately children are completely ignored in each and every chaotic scenario. Investment in future starts in the present and unless Pakistan focuses on its children now, the future will get bleaker with each passing day. The writer is Program Manager, Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child, SPARC, Islamabad.