There are some others too who fail to let their voices heard despite all their efforts. But some have ears to hear them like the one who did this story on disabled people. This blog is for all those who are considered minority for any possible reason. But I, when mention minority, refer to their strengths and abilities. Highlighting their problems here show that how much we need them in the society as an integral part. It also shows how much we believe in their capabilities in contributing to this society in a productive way.
Let’s take our first step towards embracing those who hesitate in coming to us because of any handicap–physical, mental or social.
Below is the story:
Express Tribune by Sher Ali
KARACHI: There is a ban on wheelchairs inside mosques and disabled people are not allowed to pray in congregation, pointed out the Association of Physically Handicapped Adults (APHA) on World Disability Day.
“The mullahs, who shut their mosques to us, have no idea about religion,” said the association’s SM Nishat at a news conference on Friday.
According to APHA statistics, 10 per cent of the people in Pakistan are disabled in one way or the other. Out of these, 40 per cent of people are physically challenged and can barely live on the benefits offered by the state.
“We do not want pity or sympathetic looks from people. We are talented educated professionals,” said Dr Maimoona Bari, who runs her own clinic in North Nazimabad and is a member of the association’s executive committee. “We just want to be awarded our rights.”
“The two-per cent employment quota for the disabled is being given to [non-disabled] individuals and that is unfair,” complained APHA president Shariful Muzaffer. “Before they used to tell us that we aren’t educated enough but now when we prove our qualifications, they still offer the jobs to others.”
The Express Tribune contacted Sindh Minister for Social Welfare Nargis N D Khan for a confirmation but she insisted that the “quota is being fulfilled”. “We are hiring in all positions, such as coordinators and computer technicians, depending on the applicant’s ability and education,” she said.
Khan refused, however, to give an exact number of disabled people who have been hired during her tenure. “I don’t know the exact figure but we have issued advertisements and will be hiring soon,” she said.
The government also offers a 50-per cent discount to disabled people on airfare and railway tickets but members of the association claimed that the discount is either useless or not offered at all.
Syed Javed Qadeer of the APHA narrated his experience with the national airline, whose agent quoted an airfare higher than the regular, economy-class ticket. The agent said that the airline offers all its discounts on the business-class ticket.
“This made no sense to me because we can barely afford the economy ticket and now we have to pay more than the regular fare,” said Qadeer, who called the ticketing centre and received a confirmation that the 50-percent discount for disabled people and the 25-per cent discount for the attendant flying with them is only offered on the higher classes of both economy and business.
Another member of the executive committee, Shazia Yousaf, who has been working at NADRA for the past 10 years, complained that she receives pitiful looks every time she rides a bus but she doesn’t let it get to her. “What I do need is some help and for others to realise that they need to do their part as well,” she said.
“We need ramps for easy access into buildings, railings for support to climb stairs, lower footpaths to climb onto without help and buses friendly for handicapped people. This is not charity we are asking for, this is our right.”
Rally outside KPC
The Disabled Welfare Association organised a rally on Friday and walked from Karachi Press Club towards the Arts Council roundabout. The participants demanded more land for a training workshop for the disabled as the present 40-yard space was not enough.
The association’s president, Javaid Raees, said that the chief minister has been making promises for the past two years. Raees held negotiations with special advisers to the chief minister, M Waqar Mehdi and Rashid Rabbani, who were later joined by Pakistan Peoples Party Karachi chapter president Najmi Alam. Alam promised 25 government jobs for the disabled as well as a larger plot of land.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 4th, 2010.