Inclusive manifestos Parties increasingly committed to rights of specially-abled

PMHA says conceptual differences between four top parties exists

Asma Ghani July 23, 2018
Representational image. PHOTO: REUTERs

ISLAMABAD: If manifestos of the major political parties, contesting in this week, are anything to go by, then the level of commitment towards the rights of specially-abled people has increased.

Unlike in the past, in 2018 parties came up with concrete strategies to address the issues of this marginalised segment of society.

Yet conceptual differences on the nature of those commitments persist, with some measures aimed at bestowing equal rights and others meant to grant greater medical access with all parties inferring to putting forward a much-needed law for the welfare of specially-abled people.

PMHA welcomes political parties’ will to support PWDs

These thoughts emerged in a discussion as manifestos of four parties contesting the upcoming elections was audited for the rights of specially-abled people. The event had been organised by the Potohar Mental Health Association (PMHA) with support from the Hashoo Foundation.

The ‘Disability Audit of Political Parties’ Manifestos’ reviewed manifestoes of three national parties including the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), and the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa-based Awami National Party (ANP).

The review noted that unlike in the past, this time, clear references have made by all leading parties to work for the welfare of specially-abled people.

It noted that previously, no party had called for legislating on this issue. This time, all three national-level parties call for taking measures which can prove to be the first steps in passing comprehensive legislation for the welfare of specially-abled people.

The audit noted that such a legislation will be in line with Pakistan’s obligations under the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).

While there are similarities and overlaps in the commitments made by each party towards specially-abled people, the study also hinted at how different measures show differences in the approaches each party makes towards the issue.

The PPP enlist measures that which make specially-abled people equal citizens. The PTI calls for steps which celebrate specially-abled people, such as marking them as heroes, thereby shining a spotlight on them.

Similarly, some measures call for granting specially-abled people their due rights, whereas others approach the issue from a medical perspective.

The audit reviews that the PPP manifesto for upcoming general elections 2018 is in more comprehensive and requires strategies for creating a harmonious society with equal rights for all of its inhabitants.

The party has a chapter on inclusive societies which includes specially-abled people but it remains vague in its plans for specially-abled women and children.

The party has also pledged to create in-school and after-school programmes for those students who are affected by certain natural or man-made disasters or violence. It, however, does not mention what it will do for specially-abled children.

The PTI claims to have adopted a “rights-based approach” towards specially-abled people which can be termed an important step for an inclusive and socially inclusive society.

However, terminologies used in describing what the party intends to do suggests that they have adopted a medical approach.

Moreover, the PTI has even less to say about women living with disabilities, their health issues, political participation in party affairs and in national affairs with appropriate seats at national and provincial assemblies, and no clear-cut role in decision making.

The PML-N, which looks to return to the power corridors for a fourth term, has used politically incorrect terminologies to identify specially-abled people.

The party does not mention anything about the health of such people in either of their manifestos nor does it list the ways specially-abled people can get better access to educational facilities or provisions for women living with disabilities.

The ANP, which attaches significant importance to women, their participation in all spheres of life, seems to have neglected women living with disabilities in their manifesto.

Other gross negligence is the health issues of women, children and men living with disabilities in the manifesto with no provision listed.

However, they have shown special care by insisting that all public and private offices, markets and shopping malls must have special arrangements to allow specially-abled people to move around with ease, have separate functional and clean toilets for specially-abled women.

Parties urged to include specially-abled in manifestos

These differences, the PMHA notes, show just how little parties understand about the issues faced by specially-abled people.

The audit also stresses the need for engaging PWDs in any political process, such as decision-making, election contesting – to which parties have committed now.

Such differences can even emerge in the discussions leading to legislation for the specially-abled people.

Still, the organisation hoped that the legislative process will iron out those differences, leading to a consensus on mainstreaming specially-abled people in a manner befitting their dignity.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 23rd, 2018.


Replying to X

Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.

For more information, please see our Comments FAQ

Most Read