More than 300 physically-challenged people, including children, gathered at the boys’ hostel lawn of the Aga Khan University Hospital on Saturday to receive their Special Computerised National Identity Cards (CNICs) from the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA).
The registration was organised by the Network of Organisations Working for People with Disabilities Pakistan (NOWPDP), in collaboration with the Sindh government and NADRA. The campaign aimed to complete the registration process for special CNICs for up to 300 people with disabilities across the province on the day. Usually, they need to acquire clearance from the departments of special education, social welfare, labour and NADRA, on top of going through a medical examination.
“I am physically unable to go through the lengthy registration process for the special CNIC, which is why I am here today,” said Shakeel Ghani, 32, who was in a wheelchair and was waiting for his turn.
Irshad Bibi 40, who had only one leg, arrived from Machhar Colony in a wheelchair. “My sister and I are both physically challenged, and I came here with a neighbour despite the strike, so that I can be eligible for a job or financial assistance,” said Irshad. She seemed satisfied with the fast-track process, and said that the camp did away the need for her to visit five different government departments.
NOWPDP’s Jeremy Higgs said that the target for the day’s drive was to register 300 people, which will be expanded in the near future. “We have brought three government departments together, so that signing up for special CNICs becomes more accessible for people.”
Imtiaz Ahmed Sheikh, the special education adviser, visited the camp and signed a memorandum of understanding with NOWPDP and NADRA. The campaign will soon be expanded to other districts of Sindh as well. “We plan to issue 10,000 special CNIC cards within six months during one-window events like these. We will also try to set up permanent registration camps across every district of Sindh,” he said.
NADRA’s deputy chairman, Tariq Malik, said that his department has issued special CNICs to 150,000 people across the country so far. NADRA will also start issuing Smart Cards to disabled people, which will make them eligible for travelling expenses, postal services, education and financial assistance.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 18th, 2012.
Correction: An earlier version of this story mentioned that the registration campaign aimed to provide special CNICs for 10,000 people in the province in “one day.” However, NADRA, NOWPDP and the Sindh government, organisers of the campaign, hoped to provide up to 300 special CNICs on March 17, the day on which the event took place. They ultimately plan to process 10,000 special CNICs over a six- month period. The error is regretted.