PESHAWAR: The provincial government is enacting a law for full medical rehabilitation of persons with disabilities and their inclusion in the community, allocation of four per cent job quota in public sector departments, ensuring their education and making buildings accessible to handicapped people.
“The bill has been vetted by law department and has been sent to chief minister for his approval prior to placing it before the provincial cabinet and then tabling it in provincial assembly to make it a law,” senior government officials told Dawn.
They said that the law would fulfil the last standing demand of persons with disabilities regarding their self-respect and dignity, equal opportunities, making hotels and buildings accessible to them. It also covers the rights of children with disabilities.
The draft law titled ‘Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2021, will be extended to the entire province. Under the law, special days would be reserved in every month for issuance of disability certificate to people by medical board under the medical superintendents of the district headquarters hospitals.
Bill ensures their rehabilitation, job quota and making buildings accessible to them
There will be appellate authority to listen to complaints of aggrieved persons against the medical boards. Council for Rehabilitation of Persons with Disabilities with its secretariat in Peshawar will be also established while the district social welfare officers will assist the council at district level. It has also outlined the penalties for those violating the law.
The 31-page draft bill covers all aspects to make lives of persons with disabilities (PWDs) convenient and end discrimination, barriers, stigmatisation and marginalisation of the handicapped people.
Pakistan signed the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) on September 25, 2008 and ratified it on July 5, 2011 but has not implemented the relevant law.
After the passage of 18th Amendment, the powers of legislation have been devolved to the provinces. So far, Sindh and Baluchistan governments have enacted law to empower PWDs while Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa are yet to legislate in this regard.
Early this year, the Supreme Court of Pakistan instructed the federal and provincial governments to take steps for empowerment of special people. After the Supreme Court’s directives, the President of Pakistan signed into law the Islamabad chapter, capital territory, Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act 2020.
In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, efforts were made but not such law was approved. Ultimately the law is going to be passed.
The accessibility of disabled to the buildings, parks and public places is a big issue though some directives have been issued by provincial government to make the buildings accessible to them and also give priority to implement the disability quota.
Officials said that the World Report on Disability (WRD) for 2011 estimated that more than one billion people across the globe had some form of disability and one out of every seventh person anyone came across was likely a person with a disability (PWD).
Excluding people with disabilities not only harms them and their families but incurs a high cost to the economy of at about Rs127 billion annually.
Mainstreaming persons with disabilities in Pakistan, the Economist Intelligence Unit’s report produced for the British Council, emphasised the impact of the economic curtailment on the nation. In 2014, a loss of around $11.9 billion to $15.4 billion, or 4.9-6.6 per cent was incurred to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by excluding PWDs from the workforce, said officials.
Published in Dawn, November 3rd, 2021