Do away with the Ruet e Hilal CommitteeApril 27, 2020
Pakistan must realiseMay 15, 2020
Mr. Zubair Habib 3nd May 2020
Chief, Citizens Police Liaison Committee (CPLC)
Sindh Governor House, Karachi
Dear Zubair Habib,
Developing Zainab Alert App into a model Missing Child Alert and Response System.
- I want to compliment you for the CPLC- Sindh Police joint initiative of introducing the Zainab App, to handle cases of missing and abused children. This is a much needed and brilliant initiative.
- Thank you also for readily organizing a meeting between myself and Mr. Shaukat, Ali Haji and Farooq of CPLC. You are fortunate to have such an excellent and passionate team working on this project. We had extensive and in-depth discussions on the App and agreed to work together to develop the system from an APP to a full-fledged Missing Child Alert and Response System, that could be a role model for the entire country.
- Since last month I followed up on a number of missing child cases and kept on exchanging critical notes with your team on how they were handled by the CPLC. Our observations were as follows:
- The CPLC helpline for missing children is not widely known to public and related organisations, with the result that most cases are not reported on CPLC Zainab App or Helpline.
- Even the Sindh Police does not know that they need to inform CPLC Missing Child Helpline so that the reported cases are recorded and tracked thru Zainab App. Thus even when a case is registered by a police station, CPLC is not informed and continues to remain in darkness. As an example the CPLC found out only after being informed by a citizen on 30th April that an 11 year old girl Mehak was missing since 7th April, although the Police was in know of it. So while this Zainab App is a CPLC-Police initiative, even these two departments are not on the same page.
- Police is still reluctant to lodge an FIR for missing children. (The FIR for 11 year old Mehak from Ibrahim Haidri , missing since 7th April, was lodged 11 days later).
- Even when a case is reported to CPLC, the CPLC does little else besides issuing the basic info on the first page of Zainab App and informing the concerned police station. So there is no way of knowing what happened to a missing child, how was it responded to, how was the child found or not found, how was the child recovered, who were the culprits, what actions are being taken to bring them to justice, what lessons were learnt and what improvements in the system were made etc. Essentially there is no agreed and approved documented SOP that defines or governs these actions and responsibilities.
- There is little coordination between the other (at least half a dozen) government and private Helplines on the same issue. This does not help the situation but actually hampers, delays and destroys the system. There is absolutely no reason for having more than one missing child Helpline in the province of Sindh.
- The critical thing to understand is that an App is NOT a SYSTEM,. It is just one component of a bigger system. I believe you have a good App, but it is not backed up by the necessary intellectual and physical support systems and processes. Thus unless one builds the associated background processes, the App, would remain at best, a cosmetic instrument of good intentions.
- I must also submit that one needs to take a bigger view of how the Zainab App and missing child Helpline will fit into a nationwide App and a nation wide Helpline that are mandated by law under the Zainab Alert Response and Recovery Act 2020 and ZARRA Agency. One positive way of looking at this could be to develop the current CPLC- Police Zainab Alert APP and Helpline into an efficient working model for entire Sindh which could then be upscaled to a nationwide service, as the ZARRA agency gets operationalized.
- In conclusion I would recommend that the procedures and SOPs for implementing the Zainab App and the Helpline must be made with discussion and in conjunction with other departments such as Sindh Police, Sindh Child Protection Department, NGOs like Edhi and Roshni that actively work on this issue and the concerned citizens. The system should not be a static system but have built in features for constant audit and improvement. On our part as members of Kasur Hamara Hai (KHH), we would be happy to offer our full support, where required, in building up an efficient and effective missing child alert and response system, that could be emulated as a nation-wide system.
Kasur Hamara Hai (KHH)
Mr. Mushtaq Mehar, Inspector General, Sindh Police
Mr. Azeem Meo, Director General Sindh Child Protection Department.