Rights of Physically Challenged

Pakistani society has not been fair to the physically challenged. There is a need
to give them equitable opportunities under countrywide legislation.

By Dr. Qasim Sodhar | October 2020

Before discussing the ICT Rights of Persons with Disability Act 2020, that was passed by the National Assembly in January 2020, I want to emphasize on using the term ‘physically challenged persons’ instead of ‘disabled persons’ because disability is a very harsh word.

“Disability means a long-term physical or mental condition that limits a person’s movements, senses or activities and includes physical, mental, intellectual and developmental disorders or sensory impairments.”

The term ‘physically challenged’ is more appropriate. It is a well-known reality that our society has not remained fair to such people, which is tragic. In view of the unfair behaviour towards physically challenged people, the Federal Minister for Human Rights, Shireen Mazari took an initiative to move a Bill in the National Assembly which was passed in January 2020.

Said Daily Dawn, “… the Constitution guarantees the fundamental rights of all citizens, including persons with disabilities, without discrimination. As a party to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Pakistan is obliged to ensure and promote the full realization of rights and freedoms for persons with disabilities by taking appropriate legislative, administrative and policy measures.”
The main objective of the Bill was to eradicate all kinds of discrimination against physically challenged people. Also, according to the Bill, nobody can even conduct research or release news of any physically challenged person without his/her permission. This is also part of the ‘research ethics’ but still such ethics are most of the time surpassed. The Bill also emphasizes for physically challenged persons equality before the law, equality in employment, right to privacy, ease of access and mobility, protection from abusive, violent and intolerant discriminatory behavior, right to live independently in the community, and the right to own property, etc. Likewise, they will be given fair opportunities in educational institutions both government as well as in private institutions.

As far as the educational institutions are concerned, they can adopt physically challenged students’ friendly policies by their own, and for that matter, they even do not need any legislation by the Assembly. In this context, though the Bill was not passed and approved by the Senate of Pakistan, yet a separate center for physically challenged students was established by the Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad Alumni Association a few months ago.

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