For nearly a-decade-long armed conflict, internal unrest and violence in Balochistan have resulted split up of families which left children alone without any parental look after; hundreds of their parents mainly men who were either imprisoned or dead or whose fate still is unknown. In this grim situation, besides parents, young children too are reported to meet the same fate as their adult men members.

The Asian Human Rights Commission claims that from 2001 to 2009, 168 children have been reported disappeared; claimed to be taken away by the law enforcement agencies. Some of them are claimed by their families dead and many are still missing at large. After 2009, the number of missing children is feared to have increased. National and international human rights organizations have been voicing against a wide range of violations of international human rights and humanitarian laws on daily basis in the name of war against anti state elements in the province including the right to life, the right not to be subjected to inhuman, cruel and degrading treatment. On the other hand, those anti state elements have been recruited young children to fight with the State.

Besides, there are reported increasing trends of children separated from their families mainly due to negligence of parents. According to an NGO (Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child), from April 2010 to March 2011, 141 children were reported missing in Balochistan; out of which 91 children were below 15 years of age. In some of the reported cases of missing children from Madrasahs in Quetta, it is being feared that Madrasah children were sent to get Jihadi training in tribal belt in the northern parts of Pakistan. Missing children are at risk of abduction and sexual (prostitution) and other kinds of exploitation such as forced labour, child begging and physical and mental abuse.

As flood in August 2010 devastated other provinces so it did with people of 12 districts of Balochistan which affected more than 80,000 people and completely or partially damaged schools, health facilities, food and livestock, roads and bridges and other infrastructure in these districts. The total damaged schools were counted 557 in the province. Still thousands of families, including children, are living helpless in makeshifts outside the main towns of Balochistan. Many children from those makeshifts go for begging on streets or work in hazardous occupations where they become subject to exploitation, abuse, torture, inhuman and degrading treatment by employers and any other strong on the streets.

It is the province with lowest literacy rates and poorest health indicators. According to the Federal Bureau of Statistics, the net enrolment rates in Balochistan from the age group 5 to 14 years, is very minimal. The total net enrolment in primary is 44 % (age group 5 to 9), in middle 11 % (age group 10 to 12) and in matric is 5 % (age group 13 to 14). And, overall the literacy rate is 37% (20% for women) compared to 54% of the national literacy rate. Most of the population of this learning age is out of formal education system due to poverty and non-availability of educational services.

Health sector in Balochistan depicts a shameful reality that some hundred hospitals and dispensories throughout the province lack basic amenities for the treatment of ailing people who cannot pay for private hospitals. Besides, according to United Nations Fund for Children, 69% of households in Balochistan have no improved toilet facility at all. About 66% households in Balochistan do not have access to water in their premises.

Six districts of Balochistan have been declared as high risk areas for polio as more than 11 polio cases has been reported in 2010 from Quetta, Qilla Abdullah, Pasheen, Jaffarabad, Naseerabad and Chaghi. The provincial health minister also confessed that his ministry could not make polio free Balochistan. One of the reasons quoted is, military operation in certain areas have restricted mobility of polio teams.

Also from legal and policy point of view, the province has nothing to offer to children. Sadly, Balochistan is the only province in Pakistan that is devoid of any legislation or policy for the protection and welfare of children.

The current Government of Balochistan is blessed with all kinds of ministries but not any ministry for children. Moreover, Balochistan package, an empty vessel, even does not mention about children of Balochistan nor is any reference given to heal the damage done to children affected during the military operation against anti state elements. Only one indirect promise is being made in the package that the federal government will provide 1 billion rupees for the rehabilitation of internally displaced persons of Dera Bugti but that promise has not done anything for children because their families are still living on the outskirt of various other towns of Balochistan, Sindh and Punjab and going through unending miseries but unknown to all.

The Government of Balochistan must realize and understand the state of children in the province and immediately introduce a child protection and welfare laws and policy and at the same time must do five more things immediately: one, allocate budget for the child protection and welfare issues; two, introduce the free and compulsory education act. Now after the insertion of Article 25-A in the Constitution of Pakistan through 18th Amendment, the education has become free and compulsory for children from 5 to 16 years of age and a provincial subject; three, constitute a commission for compiling a report on the state of children of Balochsitan; four, help children affected of flood and armed conflict by establishing a pool of funds; and, five, put sincere efforts to find missing children.


The views shared in this article do not necessarily reflect those of the AHRC, and the AHRC takes no responsibility for them.

About the Author:
Abdullah Khoso is a national programme manager with Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child (SPARC); he can be reached at

Document ID :AHRC-ETC-031-2011
Countries : Pakistan
Date : 19-08-2011