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International Day of Disabled Persons: Disabled in G-B demand jobs, rights

By Shabbir Mir

GILGIT: Physically challenged residents of Gilgit-Baltistan on Saturday demanded their due share in government jobs so that they can feel some semblance of societal acceptance.

“We are reminded every day, either by the government, the clergy, media or even by the public at large, that we have no role in our society,” said visually impaired Irshad Kazmi at an event in Gilgit to commemorate the International Day of Persons with Disabilities.

“Nothing could be further from the truth,” he told The Express Tribune on the sidelines of the event.

The event, organised by the Al-Khidmat Foundation (AKF) and attended by Chief Minister Hafeezur Rehman, highlighted the problems physically challenged people face in the region.

“Most of those physically challenged are without jobs,” said human rights activists Israruddin Israr while addressing the ceremony.

To make matters worse, Israr said G-B did not have a consolidated database of special people with experts estimating there were 3,000 physically challenged people in the region.

“Generally, I can say the acceptability of people like us [the disabled] in our society is pathetic,” Kazmi said.

Kazmi, who heads the Visually-Impaired Persons Rehabilitation Association (VIPRA), said that special people are discriminated against and are told, directly or obliquely, that they are useless.

However, he said that there had been some improvement recently.

“Some people [who are physically challenged] have been given jobs in government departments under the quota specified for them,” said Kazmi, who had filed a petition in the chief court of Gilgit against non-implementation of the two per cent quota for physically challenged people. In his speech, the chief minister urged non-governmental organisations to help the government compile data physically challenged people in the region.

“Lets work together,” said Rehman. “We have the resources but lack of data hampers our efforts for such people.” He assured that his government was trying to implement the quota for special people.

On the occasion 50 disabled persons were provided free of cost wheelchairs by AKF as part of its programme to empower special persons.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 4th, 2016.

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