Plight of differently able persons

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Azhar Ali
According to the recent census there are about 3.2 million disabled persons living in the country which constitutes the two percent of the total population. However, as for as the numbers are concerned, they can be much higher than the numbers counted in the census. Unless we do not have an accurate numbers of the people with disabilities (PWDs), how can state provide them their equal rights they deserve? The Constitution of Pakistan stipulates the elimination of exploitation, protection, safeguard, security, and accessibility and guarantees the social and economic well-being of all citizens living in the country. Pakistan is also a signatory of “The UN’s convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities 2007”. As per the convention that all signatories shall provide the equality of opportunity and accessibility to persons with disabilities and also ensure and promote their participation in civil, political, economic, social and cultural spheres with equal opportunities without any discrimination. Despite all laws and conventions, we have not been able to provide full rights to the people with disabilities in our country in any sphere. Accessibility and mobilization are among the big issues for the PDWs, if one goes to the government buildings, hospitals, schools, public toilets, hotels, and parks, there are no proper facilities available for them when it comes to accessibility. The main reasons are not only providing facilities to them but also weak implementations of laws and unawareness of the rights of PWDs among people. In various parts of the country where PWDs are restrained to participate in many activities because of their disability such as participation in political and electoral rights, access to education, getting national identity cards and disability certification, benefits of social programs, and the list of discrimination with persons with disabilities (PWDs) and injustices go on. In our society, a person with a disability is looked upon with distress and this is the reason they are ignored to participate and enjoy their rights. As mentioned above that there are about 3.2 million PWDs living in the country which is a big purchasing pool and they can spend it by purchasing their desired items from the markets, but the sad reality is that many markets remain inaccessible for the PWDs. They question remains how can they purchase their daily necessities? Now responsibility also lies on business community as well, they spent millions of rupees on their product advertisement across the country, what if they mention on the advertisement that their stores are also accessible for peoples with disability so that the people at the business stores pay attention to the disabled person. On the legislation side, our parliament should make a nationwide law “Pakistan with Disabilities Act” In which all public and private institutions should be bound to make the life of people with disabilities as easy as that of a common person. Construction of any new building shall not be permitted unless it is to be constructed in accordance with the law with full consent to provide facilities for persons with disabilities such as parking spaces for PWDs at the nearest side of the main building, size of doors, and the toilets must be accessible for PWDs. Therefore, the time has come to recognize the rights of disable people in all spheres of life and assured that they are also honorable citizens of the country and they are as important to this society as an ordinary person and they can also take a part in developing a prospering society. If we failed to realize them that they are also a respected and equal citizen of the society, then trust me we are all disabled.