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THE International Day for Persons with Disability is being observed today all over the world, with an aim to make the latest technology accessible to persons with disabilities (PWDs).

One wonders how in a country which ranks very low on human rights issues; where an able person feels insecure, exploited and abused; where a huge section of population is denied basic amenities, one can think of granting basic human rights to persons with disabilities.Although Pakistan has ratified the UN Convention for Rights of Persons with Disabilities, little has happened by way of legislation, policies and strategies in line with UN convention.

No signs of progress are glimpsed from the end of academia in producing master trainers for suggesting and creating better channels for the incorporation of PWDs in the mainstream educational system. The role of Disabled People Organisations (DPOs) needs to be evolved into more transparent, purpose-based, productive and result-oriented platform, no matter what service areas the individual DPO would be focusing.

As a person involved with service and healthcare of PWDs, I am worried as to how many more years would still be required to change the mindset of all stakeholders; including the government, civil society, immediate and extended families of PWDs and PWDs themselves, from the conventional thinking of charity and sympathy-based models to social and rights-based approaches.

A ray of hope has manifested as a comprehensive legal draft called ‘Pakistan Disability Act’ is developed and presented to the legislatures by Community-Based Inclusive Development Network-Pakistan, with a legal petition filed in the Supreme Court against relevant state functionaries, seeking enforcement of fundamental rights of citizens embodied in the Constitution and implementation of 1981 Ordinance of Disability. I hope the state and civil society will rise up to the occasion and raise awareness about the hapless status of PWDs and strive for their right to full life.

Fakiha Rasheed

Consultant, Organisational Development, Dar-ul-Sukun

Karachi

Published in Dawn December 3rd , 2014