Only 33 percent of children under the age of five in Pakistan are registered, which means that out of 23 million children, only 7.7 million are registered and approximately two out of three children do not officially exist in the country.
67% Pakistani children under the age of 5 unregistered
This was pointed out by United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Child Protection Chief Silvia Pastir, while addressing a seminar on Civil Registration & Vital Statistics (CRVS) at the University of Health Sciences (UHS). It is how societies first recognize and acknowledge a child’s identity and existence, she said adding that birth registration was also key to guaranteeing that children are not forgotten, denied their rights or hidden from the progress of their nation. She emphasized that birth registration as an essential component of a country’s civil registry, also strengthened the quality of vital statistics, aiding planning and government efficiency.
Pakistan ranks among the countries with the lowest birth registration levels
The failure by the state to provide legal identity to those born in its territory is in itself a violation of fundamental rights. The denial of this right to legal recognition perniciously feeds into a vicious cycle of rejection and exclusion of a child from other guaranteed rights, protections and benefits.
Under-reporting of births and deaths may have severe consequences for policy formation, health planning, research and resource allocation at all levels. Among the reasons for not registering, the report authors cite prohibitive costs, cultural barriers, and fears of discrimination or marginalization. Unregistered births are a “symptom of the inequities and disparities in society.
Pakistan is passing through the phase of population transition with high fertility and low mortality. Children population comprises nearly half of the total population, but as they can’t raise a voice for their rights, they are ignored.
Fraud and Forgery are strong industries in Pakistan
Ironically, the pace at which Pakistan Army registers plots and announces new housing schemes/ policies appears to be much faster and more organized. And why not? Fraud and forgery are very strong industries in Pakistan. The availability of fraudulent documents in Pakistan is “widespread” and that the quality of local documents is “inconsistent”. They are used for “fraud and misrepresentation” before private and public authorities for vested purposes.
Earlier in Dec 2014, the representative of the Centre for Peace and Development Initiatives had indicated that fake property documents and “documents concerning valuable entitlements” are routinely found in Pakistan.
Fake land ownership titles are “generally” obtained with the “connivance” of officials from the government’s revenue agency which are hands in glove with the Army. These are then used to obtain loans, occupy someone else’s property, or involve the true owner of the land in “long-drawn litigation”.
Identity fraud is a massive issue and is being exploited brutally by the powerful. The process is simple, it can involve finding a poor & uneducated Pakistani family willing to sell their own identity for a hefty amount in exchange for registering land mafias as family members and thus occupying land illegally.
Bahria Town’s activities were no secret, but it took years, and several orders by the Supreme Court, before NAB finally produced sufficient evidence for the apex court to deliver a damning verdict against the real estate behemoth in May this year. Then there is the DHA City Lahore case in which NAB named Kamran Kayani, the brother of former army chief retired Ashfaq Pervez Kayani, as one of the main accused. That investigation too, like so many others, has gone nowhere.
Unregistered births & Land scams: A deep nexus which needs a thorough inquiry
In Sep 2018, Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar asked since when the army had been involved in property deals and questioned how the army was building housing societies. “If the army wants to make housing societies, they should make them for their own people. But they make plots and start selling them to average people,” he said during the hearing. The CJP said that “billions of rupees” are earned from the allotment and transfer of land, asking where the Defence Housing Authority’s (DHA) “billions of rupees” go. No spokesperson from DHA was present at the court.
10 Jan 2019/Thursday Written by Afsana