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Zainab Alert Response and Recovery Act (ZARRA) 2020: Salient Features & Origin

Origin and Comparison of ZARRA-2020 (Zainab Alert) with AMBER Alert (USA)

Zainab Alert The Zainab Alert legislation and the AMBER Alert legislation are both mechanisms designed to address the urgent issue of missing children, but they differ in terms of scope, implementation, and the regions where they are applied. We are living in an interconnected world and some of our social problems are similar in nature. Therefore, we learn from each other and adapt the solutions implemented by another country in similar issues. Legislation on child protection is not the exception. Zainab Alert was adapted and inspired from AMBER Alert.

The Zainab Alert and AMBER Alert systems both tackle the critical issue of missing or abducted children, yet they exhibit distinct approaches and features. The Zainab Alert, named after a tragic case in Pakistan, establishes a comprehensive framework for responding to such incidents. Under the Zainab Alert Response and Recovery Act, the Zainab Alert Response and Recovery Authority (ZARRA) coordinates swift alerts with essential child details, collaborating with regulatory bodies for effective dissemination. The Act mandates toll-free hotlines, online databases, and a user-friendly mobile app to facilitate reporting and tracking. Furthermore, it encourages cooperation, data accuracy, and international collaboration to ensure children’s prompt recovery.

AMBER Alert system, originating in the United States, focuses on rapid community engagement to locate missing children. It relies on cooperation between law enforcement, broadcasters, and transportation agencies to swiftly broadcast alerts via various media, including radio, television, and digital platforms. AMBER Alerts typically involve criteria based on the child’s risk, abduction circumstances, and accurate suspect information. AMBER Alert’s strength lies in its widespread community involvement and partnership-driven approach. Both systems share the goal of child protection but emphasize varying degrees of centralized authority versus community mobilization.


Zainab Alert Legislation


The Zainab Alert system is named after Zainab Ansari, a young girl who was abducted and murdered in Pakistan. The legislation was introduced in Pakistan to address the issue of missing and abducted children.


The Zainab Alert system aims to establish a coordinated response mechanism involving law enforcement agencies, government bodies, and the community to quickly locate missing children, investigate their cases, and ensure their safe recovery.


The Zainab Alert legislation focuses on Pakistan and is intended to improve the country’s response to missing children cases through increased coordination and effective communication between relevant authorities.

It emphasizes the creation of a dedicated helpline, a rapid response team, and a database for missing children. It also mandates the timely sharing of information with the public and media to assist in locating missing children.

AMBER Alert Legislation (USA)


The AMBER Alert system originated in the United States after the abduction and murder of Amber Hagerman. It was subsequently named in her honor and has been adopted in various countries around the world.


The AMBER Alert system is an emergency alert system that quickly disseminates information about abducted children to the public through various media channels, including radio, television, and digital platforms. It is intended to mobilize the community’s assistance in locating abducted children and their captors.


The AMBER Alert system has been adopted by several countries, including the United States, Canada, and parts of Europe. Each jurisdiction may have slightly different criteria for activating an AMBER Alert, but the fundamental goal remains consistent: to rapidly spread information to assist in the safe recovery of abducted children.

AMBER Alerts involve partnerships between law enforcement agencies, broadcasters, transportation agencies, and other stakeholders. These alerts provide essential information about the child, the suspect, and any relevant vehicles, encouraging the public to be vigilant and report any sightings.

In summary, both the Zainab Alert and AMBER Alert legislation aim to address the issue of missing and abducted children, but they do so in different regions and with slightly different mechanisms. The

Zainab Alert system focuses on Pakistan and emphasizes coordinated efforts among relevant authorities, while the AMBER Alert system is more widespread and relies on rapid dissemination of information to the public through various media platforms.


Salient Features of Zainab Alert Response and Recovery Act (ZARRA) 2020


The Zainab Alert Response and Recovery Act 2020 encompasses several salient features to effectively address cases of missing or abducted children. These features, administered by the Director General, are designed to ensure a coordinated and comprehensive response for the safety and recovery of children. The key features of the Zainab Alert Response and Recovery Act 2020 are as follows:

Activation of Zainab Alerts

The Act empowers the Zainab Alert Response and Recovery Authority (ZARRA) to initiate Zainab alerts when a child is reported as missing or abducted.

These alerts will disseminate information about the physical characteristics of the child and any other relevant data to assist in their identification.

The alerts are broadcasted through various mediums, including SMS, MMS, television tickers, radio announcements, social media, and online platforms.

Coordination with Regulatory Authorities

ZARRA collaborates with the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) for issuing Zainab alert SMS and MMS, as well as with the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) for television and radio broadcasts.

These coordinated efforts maximize the reach and impact of Zainab alerts to aid in the prompt reporting of abductions.

Procedures for Alert Issuance

ZARRA defines clear procedures for the activation of Zainab alerts, specifying when, how often, and in which geographical territories these alerts should be raised.

Toll-Free Helpline

A nationwide toll-free helpline number (1099 or another designated number) is established for individuals to report missing or abducted children.

This helpline facilitates the public’s role in providing information related to missing children.

Online Database

ZARRA maintains an online database that records reported incidents of missing or abducted children.

The database is regularly updated and monitored for accuracy and is accessible to the public on the ZARRA website in both English and Urdu.

Responsibility of National Commission on Rights of Child

The National Commission on Rights of Child and relevant divisions maintain a separate database for missing children.

The commission also coordinates information with local law enforcement agencies, issues public reports on missing and abducted children, and introduces procedures and indicators to enhance ZARRA’s effectiveness.

User-Friendly Mobile Application

ZARRA introduces a user-friendly mobile application linked to the main database, enabling the reporting and updating of information about missing children.

Cooperation and Enforcement

ZARRA ensures compliance with prescribed rules and procedures by stakeholders and organizations.

The authority has the authority to initiate actions against non-cooperation or non-compliance in accordance with the Act’s rules.

International Cooperation

ZARRA coordinates and cooperates with foreign agencies and authorities in cases where a child has been wrongfully removed to or from Pakistan. This includes developing Standard Operating Procedures for such cases.

Collaboration with Law Enforcement

ZARRA seeks cooperation from federal and provincial law enforcement agencies and other relevant authorities for effective coordination in cases of missing or abducted children.

Additional Tasks and Functions

ZARRA is empowered to undertake any necessary tasks to fulfill its functions effectively in cases of missing or abducted children.


The Zainab Alert Response and Recovery Act 2020 aims to provide a robust framework for swift and coordinated actions in response to missing or abducted children cases, ensuring their prompt recovery and safeguarding their rights.


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