State, society apathetic to plight of the disabled


Disabled people face a multitude of barriers that limit their access to education, employment, housing, transportation, health care, rehabilitation and recreation. And the disabled people with little or no means of support are among the poorest of the poor in Pakistan. In addition to other problems, transportation is the one disabled people in the capital are acutely facing.
With the devolution of the Ministry of Women Development, and Special Education, the problems of these underprivileged have increased manifold.
Talking to Pakistan Today a few of these special persons said on Friday that they had to face innumerable problems wherever they would go; be it a public park or a shopping mall or a hospital.
Though the CDA have designated special facilities for the special persons at public places but people often violate the rights of the disabled despite seeing warning signboards. The special people told this scribe that only 30,000 out of total 3.7 million disabled people in the country had access to basic education.
Hamza Khan, a 29-year-old disabled boy, said special persons usually had extraordinary qualities and talent compared to “normal” people.
“But in this part of the world they are being neglected everywhere. Special persons ought to be an important part of society and they do deserve attention, encouragement and love,” he said.
Talking about his daily ordeal, he said at the end of the day when after staying idle and confined to his home, he would go out to get some fresh air, he had to face trouble because people never minded the signboard reading “reserved for the disabled”. He said he just could bear with people’s encroaching upon parking spaces and slopes meant for the special persons.
Hamza said almost every special person wanted to be self-sufficient through training so he or she might not be a burden for those around him or her. “I believe that with vocational training the disabled can also contribute to their households and society,” he added. He lamented the fact the terrorism too had rendered many people disabled, who with proper care and training could become as useful to society as anybody else.
This scribe during a visit to Melody Food Park in Sector G/6 and Aabpara Market was shocked to see wheelchair ramps closed with barbwires in the name of security. The special people visiting the places were having a good deal of trouble.
On public transport as well, there are no reserved seats for special persons hence their mobility is further limited.
“I am a government employee working at the Pakistan Secretariat. I have to go to my office from Saddar in Rawalpindi on public transport. Since there are no seats reserved for the disabled, I have to board a van after a considerable physical effort, particularly in the morning,” said Kashif Pervaiz, a commuter with physical disability.
Talking to this scribe, Jamal Hussain, a person with impaired vision, said the rights of the special persons in Pakistan were at stake because the rulers had always been busy in serving their own interests. He said not a single policymaker in any government ever bothered about the plight of the disabled.
He cited the societies of the developed world where a special attention was given to the disabled people there.
He demanded government should announce a 50 percent concession for special people in transport fares, utility bills. He said there should also be a state allowance for the disabled. Syed Mustafain Kazmi, the director general of Directorate General of Special Education and Social Welfare, said that since the ministry’s devolution, his department’s jurisdiction was limited to the capital.
“Currently, 26 government centers are providing services to 1,500 special people in the twin cities. A consolidated survey to find out more information about the special children was being planned with the help of international agencies. We will not tolerate any discriminatory behaviour against special children”, Kazmi said.
He stressed that parents should not take their special children as an embarrassment and rather they should send them to special education centers and encourage them to become active members of the society.