KARACHI: The Sindh Assembly approved on Friday a landmark amendment to the Motor Vehicles Ordinance, 1965, paving the way for hearing-impaired persons to be granted driving licences.
Moving the bill, parliamentary affairs minister, Mukesh Kumar Chawla, said that the government has also decided to waive the licence fee for applicants who may have mild to severe hearing loss. Besides, the driving test for such persons will only be administered by those police officers who are well-versed with sign language. "Applicants with hearing impairment of up to 40 decibels (DB) shall wear hearing aids and in case the hearing loss exceeds 40 DB, the applicants shall use assistive technology devices or means as per the vehicle type," the amendment reads.
During the debate on the legislation, which was approved unanimously, representatives of differently-abled persons were also present in the visitors' gallery. Chawla also moved a motion to relax all rules to invite one of the visitors, Mahreen, to the assembly floor. Mahreen, who stood near the speaker's podium, briefed the hearing-impaired persons about the amendment using sign language.
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As the law was put to a vote and passed, the hearing-impaired persons put their thumbs in the air to show their appreciation, while the treasury and opposition members welcomed the differently-abled persons and lauded the Sindh government's efforts to present the law. "On this historic day, we congratulate persons with hearing impairment and the Sindh government for making an extraordinary law," said health minister Dr Azra Fazal Pechuho.
Rana Ansar of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) referred to the legislation passed by the assembly and remarked that Sindh has always led the way in making remarkable laws. "We are happy that all parties, irrespective of their political differences, have joined hands and supported this bill," she said.
Firdous Shamim Naqvi, the opposition leader in the Sindh Assembly, appreciated the Sindh government for making such a law and informed the house that two of his daughters were also differently-abled. "Hearing-impaired persons are entitled to get the driving licence in developed countries. It's a good omen that we have also pursued it," he said while suggesting the Sindh government to ensure the provision of basic facilities for disabled persons at government and private buildings in all cities and towns of the province.
PPP lawmakers Shabir Bijarani and Shehla Raza and Heer Sohu, Dr Seema Zia and Shahzad Qureshi of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, Mangla Sharma of MQM-P and others also spoke in favour of the law.
Driving licences to be issued to persons with hearing impairment in Sindh
At the time of moving the bill, the opposition leader had moved an amendment, requesting the government to waive the driving licence fee for hearing-impaired persons. The amendment was carried and the bill was passed unanimously.
Resolution to pay tribute to Guru Nanak
The Sindh Assembly also adopted a resolution to pay tribute to Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism on his 550th birthday. The resolution was moved by Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA) MPA Nand Kumar Goklani.
In his speech, Kumar read three principles of Guru Nanak - "kirat karo" (to honestly earn with hard work), "Naam Japo (meditation on God and reciting and chanting God's name) and Vand Chako (share and consume together).
In his speech, he briefed the house about the historical background of the saint, his birthplace and the dispute between Muslims and Sikhs to own the saint on his demise. "We should follow the spiritual teachings of Baba Guru Nanak about love, tolerance and patience in this world which is divided in the name of religion, caste and creed. This is the only way to bring peace in this region as well as the world," he remarked.
PTI MPA Dewan Sachand, supporting the resolution, appreciated the federal government and the prime minister for opening the "Kartarpur Corridor" for Sikh pilgrims to visit the shrine of Guru Nanak in Narowal district, Punjab. Azra Pechuho of PPP and Mangla Sharma of MQM-P also spoke and congratulated the Sikh community on the birthday of their saint.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 9th, 2019.