Today we celebrate the International Day of Older Persons as an opportunity to acknowledge the wisdom and contributions senior citizens have made to promoting good moral and social values and securing a prosperous future for us. This Day also advocates ensuring their welfare by protecting their dignity and rights.

The theme of the 2013 commemoration, “The future we want: what older persons are saying” rightly draws attention to the efforts that need to be made on the part of the civil society, the governments , the families and friends for the welfare of the senior citizens in our societies.

The anticipated progressive increase in the population of the aged in the 21st century is rousing genuine concerns about the plight of the older persons. Issues such as income security, housing and medical care for elderly are assuming increasing importance and therefore need our greater attention to provide them the necessary reliefs.

Quite understandably, that the nature of problems being faced by elderly in Pakistan is much different from those in the developed countries. It is, however, satisfying that despite demanding socio-economic pressures; Pakistani society has stood for high respect, dignity and value of human life. We regard old age as a mark of esteem, wisdom and piety. This could be attributed to the strong ties that exist in our families, nurtured by religious values which dignify the status of elderly segment of our society.

The present government is fully cognizant of its responsibilities towards the well being, protection and rehabilitation of elderly population. We are taking all possible measures to ensure that the elderly get their due rights and live a dignified life as enjoined by our religion, social and cultural norms. Elderly are a respectable and compassionate segment of our population and I very strongly believe that they should be treated with respect, care and love along with provision of basic health and survival facilities as they are “our guide to the future”.

Let us pledge on this day that we will bring about an attitudinal change in the social mindset regarding the elderly and establish such a society that upholds the respect, dignity and welfare of our elders and takes full advantage of their wisdom and experiences for the betterment of our present and future generations.