A large group of disabled persons staged a protest in Mingora on Thursday over government’s alleged indifference towards ensuring their rights.
Holding banners and placards inscribed with anti-government slogans, they said that the federal government had promised to ensure social and financial security to persons holding disability cards issued by the National Database and Registration Authority. However two years on, nothing has come of the assurances, they maintained.
The protesters warned that if the government does not provide them their promised quota in government jobs, they will stage a larger protest on July 5.
Sajjad Ali, a social activist who is working for the welfare of disabled persons in Swat, said that he has registered 1,400 persons suffering from different forms of disability. “Most of them want to stand on their own feet and earn a living instead of begging and being dependent on others,” he said. He added that the government should establish some vocational centres where they can learn some practical skills.
“I am tired of sitting idle at home as nobody would hire me even although I’m capable of earning for myself,” said a resident of Haji Baba area, Yahya, who has been struggling with a stammer most of his life.
Another disabled person complained, “The government promised many facilities and stipends to those holding disability cards but we have not gotten any facility yet.”
They lamented that disabled persons have not been entitled any rights under the law and the constitution of Pakistan. “We are not begging but asking the government to initiate a realistic programme, which enables us to learn, work and earn,” said physically-impaired Ismaeel.
When contacted, DCO Swat Kamran Rehman said that the demands of the disabled persons are legal and justifiable. “We will try our best to give them their rights.”
Published in The Express Tribune, June 29th, 2012.