There may be approximately 18 million people in the country who suffer from some kind of disability, said Paraplegic Centre Chief Executive Officer Syed Muhammad Illyas.
At an event organised at the Paraplegic Center in Hayatabad on international disability day, Illyas said oversight in daily activities can make a person disabled for life and cost millions of rupees in treatment.
Speakers at the event said the government and other charity organisations need to empower the disabled with education and training so that they can be contributing members of society.
The event was titled ‘Removing barriers to create an inclusive and accessible society for all’. It was held in collaboration with the Khyber Medical University (KMU), Special Education Foundation and Rehman Rehabilitation Centre among other district physiotherapy organisations.
“Fastening a seatbelt during driving takes no effort, but it can save you from spinal injuries in case of an accident. However, most people do not care about these things,” Illyas said.
Illyas said that the government had reserved 2% seats for the disabled in government departments, but the law was not being followed. He asked the government to build parks, educational institutions, hospitals, and other public places which are easily accessible to people on wheelchairs or crutches.
The centre was decorated with balloons, placards and banners to highlight the rights of special people and to consider them as equals.
The chief guest at the event, KMU Vice-Chancellor Dr Muhammad Hafizullah said that the disabled must be trained in fields which require more mental than physical work so that they can excel and become a source of income for their families.
Ihsan Danish, an employee with a telecommunication firm who suffers from physical disabilities, recounted his inspiring story of winning 10 national level trophies in athletics. He said his disabilities were not a hurdle in his way and dedicated all his awards to the Hayatabad Paraplegic Centre.
Event in Haripur
Meanwhile, The Empower Pak, a non-governmental organsation founded and run by a visually impaired couple, Babar Shehzad and Sana Babar, organised a seminar in Haripur that stressed the need for national policies to ensure participation of all citizens in the socio-economic and political environment of the state.
Speakers at the event demanded a clear government policy regarding people with disabilities, saying that besides being visually or physically disabled, intolerance and a lack of public support are additional problems to deal with. They demanded a separate budget for special people and implementation of a quota for employment in the public and private sectors.
DHQ Hospital Medical Superintendent Dr Zakeem Khan and Industrialists Association Vice President Hattar Tayab Swati also spoke at the event. Young girls with visual and physical disabilities recited poetry, which was much appreciated by the audience.
(WITH ADDITIONAL REPORTING FROM MOHAMMAD SADAQAT IN HARIPUR)
Published in The Express Tribune, December 4th, 2012
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