MULTAN: Prime Minister Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani addressed a ceremony which was attended by over 2,000 special people on Sunday. This was the first ceremony of its kind and the programme was arranged by the Pakistan Baitul Mal.
Over 1,000 wheel-chairs were distributed among the disabled on the occasion and Rs50,000 each were also given to them.
A local MPA, Malik Ahmed Hassan Dehrr said that after working with the disabled for over two years, he had begun to identify with the community and was determined to ensure that they received financial assistance that would allow them independence.
Dehrr said that he had spent a year visiting homes of disabled men and women across Punjab’s districts to register them. He then contacted the Pakistan Baitul Mal administration and conveyed his objective to provide financial assistance to them, he said. Dehrr said that the Baitul Mal welcomed suggestion.
The prime minister addressed the rally, saying “It is the government’s duty to take care of its people’s needs and those with special needs require extra efforts by the government.” Gilani said that he was determined to ensure that the disabled community was looked after. “The disabled have as much right to earn a living and maintain a dignified lifestyle as anyone else,” he said.
One of the patients at the rally, eight-year-old Shahzad Ali had polio since birth and said that he would now be able to attend school because of the money provided by the government. Shahzad Ali said, “This is like Eid for me.”
I can finally move around without someone helping me. My family could never afford a wheelchair.” Shahzad’s father Wali Ahid thanked the prime minister and said that he hoped special treatment centres would be opened in all districts to make it easy for parents to avail long term treatment options for their children.
Similarly, Labourer Mohammad Siddique 12-year-old daughter Sonia Bibi received a brail kit and money for her treatment. All the special poeple who participated in the event appreciated the government’s attention towards the issue of disability funding and schooling.
The prime minister assured the disabled community that their names would be included in the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP). Gilani promised to establish rehabilitation centres in different parts of the country that would allow disabled persons to be reintegrated into society. “The government will also work to enhance the quota of jobs available for disabled people so that they can contribute to the national economy and earn a living for themselves,” he said.
Disable persons are a very important segment of our society and it is unfortunate that they are often neglected by the government when it comes to health, education and employment.
“Many disabled people are forced into beggary and are destitute. It is the government’s duty to make sure that they have options and security,” Gilani said. “There is no human being who doesn’t have the potential to contribute to society. We need to work towards helping members of the disabled community find how they can help,” he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 1st, 2010.
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