KARACHI: “I lost my legs in a bomb blast in 2013 and the fingers of my left hand in a recent sugar-cane juice machine accident, but I never burdened myself on anyone and worked hard to sustain myself,” said Faiz Bakhsh. He was waiting at the last of the sections outside the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) van with his disability certificate during the one-window special Computerised National Identity Card (CNIC) camp organised by the Network of Organisations Working for People with Disabilities, Pakistan (NOWPDP), at their office on Monday.
“Despite accepting all kinds of challenges to lead a decent life when it came to having a special CNIC made for myself I had to make several rounds at the social welfare department, doctors and the Nadra office but each time I was told that I was missing some document or the other,” he said. “It was a relief to learn about this one-window camp.”
Saleem Kheraj, visually impaired, also said that he had to go to the Sindh Government Hospital in Liaquatabad and after making several rounds for the doctor to examine him, he was told to head to Ancholi for the disability card needed to get the special CNIC. “Everywhere I went I would be approached by touts or middlemen who promised to get my work done for some extra money as I ran into hurdles,” he said.
Speaking to Dawn, Amin Amir Andani, NOWPDP’s external engagement manager, said that disability certificates, special CNICs and juvenile cards offer benefits such as free government schooling, free education at the University of Karachi, discounts on railway or air tickets, etc. “Adults may also use their special cards to order disability vehicles with custom duties exempted,” he said.
But it can be a problem getting these cards as it involves a lot of legwork, which a disabled person is unable to do. “Getting a disability certificate, a special CNIC or juvenile card made can take up to two months with several visits to some four government departments,” he said.
“Just to get an employment card from the employment exchange, one is expected to have a special CNIC for which the first place to go to is the social welfare department and then the health department where one needs to set an appointment with a doctor for an examination and then his signature on the disability certificate. With that done, one needs to go there again to collect the certificate. And after all that is done, one can start with the Nadra rounds,” Andani explained.
But the model set at NOWPDP saw the disabled persons just get a token at the front desk to sit and wait their turn at the four sections with chairs, to apply for the special CNIC at the Nadra van. “With the procedure completed, they only have to wait for 10 to 12 days before being supplied with the special CNIC,” he said. NOWPDP, he added, are also advocating with the government to make the procedure from start to finish as easy as this on a permanent basis in various other cities and districts of Sindh.
Published in Dawn, January 8th, 2019