Hundreds of dead newborn girls have been discovered in Pakistani rubbish dumps in the last year.

Since the beginning of 2017 a total of 345 babies were found dead in Karachi with 99 per cent being girls, as parents still prefer boys in Pakistan.

A four-day-old girl was found with her throat slit and another newborn baby was stoned to death after a cleric assumed it was an ‘illegitimate baby’ when it was left on the steps of a mosque.

In Pakistan child infanticide is a criminal offence but police blame poverty and illiteracy for the continuing practice of girls being killed.

The Edhi foundation and Chhipa Welfare are trying to stop child infanticide in Pakistan.

Anwar Kazmi, a senior manager in Edhi Foundation Karachi, told The News International: ‘We have been dealing with such cases for years and there are a few such incidents which shook our souls as much. It left us wondering whether our society is heading back to primitive age.’

Shahid Mehmood, from the Chhipa Welfare Organisation, added ‘Though people abandon these innocent souls but as a welfare organisation we cannot. We give them a proper burial and perform other rituals for these babies. After completing the hospital and police formalities, we burr them in our own graveyard.’

Cradles for distraught parents to put their babies in instead of killing them have been introduced into parts of Pakistan by charities in a bid to stop infanticide.

Police in Karachi claim the crime can only be investigated if there has been a complaint, and in the last year there has only been one complaint about infanticide.

The number of babies being killed is reducing but this might be because child trafficking is on the rise, according Tahera Hasan, director of Imkaan Welfare.

She said: ‘We need to focus on family planning and there is a need of a proper awareness campaign to reduce misconception about family planning in the masses. This is a way of controlling unwanted pregnancies and ultimately unwanted children too.’