A moment of great pride for the faculty and students of Government
College University Lahore as the research carried out by their Vice
Chancellor Prof. Dr. Asghar Zaidi has led to a very crucial legislation
on the welfare of senior citizens in Pakistan.
The research project titled "Moving from the Margins: Promoting and
Protecting the Rights of Older Persons in Pakistan", led by Prof.
Zaidi, provided the essential data that fed into the drafting of the
Islamabad Capital Territory Senior Citizens Bill passed by the National
Assembly Pakistan this week on Monday.
The treasury and opposition members of the National Assembly joined
hands to pass the Bill moved by Federal Minister for Human Rights Dr.
Shireen Mazari. After approval from the National Assembly and Senate,
the bill would sent to the President for signing into law.
The human rights related bill proposes the establishment of a senior
citizens council and an old-age home. According to the bill, the
division concerned shall establish and maintain an old age-home to be
known as Darul Shafqat at an accessible place to accommodate indigent
senior citizens of Islamabad.
"The bill aims to socially and economically protect the senior citizens
of Islamabad. In this respect, it aims to establish a fund for these
senior citizens. It also creates a council, including members from all
relevant departments of the government that shall ensure that all
possible steps and acts are taken to provide for the wellbeing, comfort
and dignity of these senior citizens," read the bill.
After the approval from the National Assembly, Rabiya Javeri Agha, the
former federal secretary for human rights, tweeted a congratulation
message, saying that a special credit to Prof. Dr. Asghar Zaidi and
British Council Pakistan for their research on old age in Pakistan. This report provided essential data that fed into the drafting of this
legislation, Rabiya Javeri revealed.
In 2019, the British Council in Pakistan identified that the problems
faced by older persons are a matter of urgency in Pakistan. It
therefore commissioned the research project titled Moving from the
Margins: Promoting and Protecting the Rights of Older Persons in
Pakistan. The project is carried out by HelpAge International Pakistan
led by Prof. Dr. Asghar Zaidi. The findings and recommendations of the
research project provided essential data that fed into the drafting of
this human rights bill.
Vice Chancellor Prof. Asghar Zaidi said I feel very proud that my
research on Pakistan's older population has led to a Legislative Law on
senior citizens. I am proud of the "societal impact" created by this
research I wish to see this aspect gaining momentum in the work of our
researchers at Government College University Lahore . The academic
staff of GCU congratulated Prof. Zaidi, saying that he's leading them
right from the front.
The Vice Chancellor went on to say the real challenge of the
Government is the implementation. KPK, Sindh and Balochistan Assemblies
passed similar Acts five years back but implementation is falling
The Vice Chancellor quoted his research report, saying Pakistan's older
population, which reached 12.5 million in 2019, would double by 2030
and would reach close to 40 million by 2050. It is therefore
imperative that the country responds urgently to the most critical
needs of its older people and at the same time promotes more profound
societal changes which creates age-friendly and enabling environments
in which people of all ages can flourish, he said.
Prof. Zaidi believed that supporting older people and particularly
older women to have a secure income through universal social pensions
should be a priority in Pakistan. Ensuring that health services are
aligned to the health needs of the older population especially at the
primary health care level is essential to assist older people to remain
active in their communities, he said.
The Vice Chancellor also mentioned that eliminating all forms of age
discrimination and providing an environment in which older people are
protected from violence and abuse will help them exercise their choices
and contribute to society.