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KARACHI: The Sindh Assembly spent most of its time on Friday discussing the issues relating to children’s wellbeing and safety, especially against the backdrop of Zainab’s incident in Kasur and another case which surfaced in Karachi on Thursday.

A four-year-old girl was allegedly molested on the premises of a private school situated in the Ibrahim Hyderi locality of the metropolis.

Erum Khalid, special assistant to Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah, assured the house that the chief minister had taken notice of the incident and the home department would investigate it while the girl had been sent to a hospital for a medical checkup.

“It is not a case of kidnapping but of molestation and the culprit has been arrested,” she said.

Heer Ismail Soho and Ayesha Khatoon of the MQM, and Nusrat Sehar Abbasi of the PML-F had taken up the issue saying they were remonstrating against the Kasur incident a day earlier but now had to discuss another incident which took place at Ibrahim Hyderi.

‘About 900 children went missing last year’

Ms Abbasi recalled that some 1,894 children were found missing during the last year which was a serious matter and the government should take its notice.

The lawmaker held the social welfare department responsible for negligence towards children.

She also asked the department about attempts which had been made to recover the missed children.

Responding to the notice, social welfare adviser Shamim Mumtaz, who has the status of a minister in the cabinet, contested the figures of the MPA about missing persons and said NGOs often mixed up the figures by including old data.

She said the number of missing children, according to a report, was somewhere around 900, including 231 from Karachi, 103 from Hyderabad, 164 from Sukkur and 311 from Mirpurkhas. Of them, 249 were girls.

Most of the missing children were those who ran away from their homes. However, so far 650 children had been found while 297 were still missing.

She further said that there were 29 focal persons in the department, including six of the rank of SSP.

The adviser also pointed out that the chief minister had set up a desk in the CM House on Thursday to receive cases of molestation, highhandedness and disappearance of children and get their FIRs registered.

She also highlighted the need for legislation in that regard.

About the Ibrahim Hyderi incident, Ms Khalid said it took place on the premises of a private school in which the suspect was no other person but the gatekeeper of the school, who was arrested.

“The girl was not kidnapped but was reportedly molested. She was sent to a hospital for a medical examination,” she added.

Ms Khalid also highlighted that before hiring any person for a school or as a domestic servant his character and whereabouts be thoroughly investigated to avoid any mishap.

Earlier, Speaker Agha Siraj Durrani expressed his displeasure over late arrival of legislators.

He had to wait for quorum to call the hHouse in order.

Mr Durrani also suggested that the timings of the sessions be changed if the MPAs could not turn up on time in the morning.

Ayesha Khatoon said: “Those involved in molesting children should be hanged.”

The speaker refused to allow Dr Seema Zia of the PTI to take up social welfare department’s performance issue by switching off her mike.

Taking notice of governor’s gallery where no official was present to record issues raised by the legislators, the speaker asked senior minister Nisar Khuhro to take notice of the vacant seats.

He said he would also write to the chief secretary and the chief minister in that regard but Mr Khuhro should also take up this issue with the chief minister being a senior minister.

Published in Dawn, January 13th, 2018