A VISUALLY-IMPAIRED young woman aspiring to enrol herself in a Master’s programme for clinical psychology has moved the Lahore High Court against the University of Punjab for not allowing her to take the admission test. This reconfirms the odds that persons with disabilities are routinely up against in Pakistan. The country ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2011 but this has led to little in terms of relief for PWDs. And whereas examples exist of common-sense allowance given to PWDs, there are, on the other hand, instances that bring out the general unreasonable, even callous, attitudes in society towards people with special needs. The fact that the latest snub to a person with disability has come from the oldest and one of the most prestigious universities in Pakistan is preposterous.
The case filed by Kinza Javed, said to be an outstanding student, will be fixed for hearing in the coming days. It has once again highlighted how the overall prevailing negativity can drag the most knowledgeable and the wisest amongst us into unnecessary controversy. While there may be many aspects waiting to unfold as the hearing of the petition gets under way, media reports say that the student, suffering primarily from a cataract problem, had asked for an examination paper with an enlarged font size. Was that all? If yes, then this was not, by any stretch of the imagination, a huge request — unless the concerned PU department in its defence is able to highlight dimensions that may have escaped others. There are some who have been allowed the facility, and there is no apparent reason why it should not be available to all who those who seek it. This is what common sense demands; however, there is merit in taking the matter to the superior judiciary, as it brings into focus the prejudices that are rampant in society and the need to discuss reforms that would benefit PWDs.
Published in Dawn, January 13th, 2019