While the rest of the world is making and amending laws to facilitate its senior citizens, Pakistan is continuously ignoring them.
Pakistan is one of the seven developing countries where senior citizens’ population is growing at a fast rate. According to an estimate, it will reach 43 million by 2050. In 2012, senior citizens made up 7% of the total population of Pakistan, a United Nations report said.
Pakistan signed the “Madrid Plan of Action on Ageing 2002” which sets out plans on how the state can facilitate its elderly. According to this plan, the state is responsible to provide basic needs for the senior citizens. This plan set out 17 objectives that were to be achieved by 2030.
The other countries that signed up for this are already on their way to achieve these objectives, however, the story is different for Pakistan. Pakistan is yet to even formulate the plans nationwide.
There are already laws in place in Balochistan, KPK, and Sindh but they haven’t been implemented. It’s been three years since the Sindh Senior Citizens Welfare Act was passed but we haven’t seen anything done to enforce it.
A 13-member council was also formed to administer the elderly’s welfare. As per the law, the council had to meet every two months to discuss the situation, despite that not a single session has been convened.
If the welfare act gets passed, senior citizens will surely benefit from it. The elders will be issued a special card. Holders of this card will get special discounts on medical treatment, transport fares, and groceries. Benefits of the card also extend to entertainment sectors including cinemas and theaters.
Punjab is way behind as even the laws to benefit the elderly haven’t been devised yet.
Reasons Behind The Negligence
There are several reasons why Pakistan is behind in terms of incorporating rights for its elderly population. One of the reasons is that only 10% of citizens of Pakistan are employed by the government. Those who retire from government jobs get pensions among other benefits. Most of the private sector doesn’t offer these kinds of benefits to its retired workers.
There are only a handful of Non-governmental organizations (NGO) working in Pakistan. They too, lack funds to properly take care of the problem.