FAISALABAD – The government must implement the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in letter and spirit, and incorporate it in domestic legislation and policies, and create an inclusive environment allowing full realisation of the potential of persons with disabilities.
The prominent participants included Mohammad Jawwad Afzal, Deputy Director International Coordinator & NCRDP-Islamabad; Malik Mohammad Aslam, Directorate General Social Welfare-Punjab; Naseem Anthony, Executive Secretary-AWAM; Shazia George, Program Supervisor-AWAM; Shafiqueur Rehman, President-Milestone Society of Disabled People; Imtiaz Fatima, Voice Society of Disabled People; and Advocate Omer Pervaiz.
The consultation was held to identify the grey areas of domestic legislation, and facilitate dialogue and discussion to meet international commitments made by Pakistan regarding persons with disabilities.
The consultation was concerned with two areas which include international commitment and state of implementation in order to promote and protect the rights of persons with disabilities in Pakistan.
The consultation discussed the importance of including people with disabilities in the development of national strategic plans; upholding their human rights and ensuring that Pakistan has policies that promote zero tolerance for discrimination on the basis of disability.
Speaking on the occasion, Naseem Anthony said, “Although there is growing international attention for the rights of people with disabilities, but governments and policymakers rarely consider disability issues when formulating their policies. Social inclusion of persons with disabilities (PWDs) is a dire need for an inclusive society in which all the rights of PWDs are realised in true spirit. The time requires reshaping and renewing the mindsets of general public about PWDs.”
Shazia Geoge said, “Persons with disabilities often get shunned, doubtful, mocked and insulted. Therefore making an all-out effort is imperative to build the capacity of such persons to advocate on their own behalf and be an integral part of national mainstream.”
Malik Mohammad Aslam said, “Government is devoted to work for the empowerment of the people with disabilities, therefore we are creating friendly atmosphere for them to excel in life. The government will make all efforts to address the hurdles in disability registration process, and strictly apply the 2% quota at all levels reserved for them.”
The participants shared, “According to the World Bank and the World Health Organisation, about 1 billion people or 15% of the world’s population including 10% Pakistanis live with some kind of disability. They are often at increased risk because of poverty, severely limited access to education, healthcare and employment, lack of information and resources, lack of legal protection, increased risk of violence and rape, vulnerability to substance abuse, and stigma.”
The consultation involved 30 government official and leaders of key civil society organizations engaged with the work of disability issue from five districts of Punjab including Faisalabad, Jhang, Toba Tek Singh, Kasur and Lahore to share the situation of persons with disabilities in their respective areas.