Omair Ahmad, Director, NOWPDP, participated in a consultation on the rights of persons with disabilities, organized by Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) on 1st August, 2015 at the HRCP, Secretariat in Lahore.
The goal of the consultation was to examine the existing policies and discuss the actions needed for the recognition of the rights of persons with disabilities. The consultation was moderated by Mr. I.A. Rehman, Secretary General, HRCP, and Rafia Asim, Campaign Coordinator, HRCP. The consultation was attended by representatives from HRCP, government, NGOs, DPOs, and civil society organizations. A range of issues pertaining to the state of PWDs vis-à-vis education, health, political and civil rights were discussed during the consultation.
Mr. Ahmad, on behalf of NOWPDP, provided an overview of the state of persons with disability in Pakistan with a focus on statistics related to issues of unemployment rate, loss to GDP, illiteracy, lack of CNICs and what can be done to alleviate these problems.
Some suggestions made by Mr. Ahmad were to increase the relevance of literature available, improving the capacity of DPOs and Social Welfare Departments; utilizing text based platforms and the Pakistan Post Office to increase the reach; and making sustainable changes through the legislative process. Additionally, he highlighted the government’s response so far to the issues pertaining to people with disabilities and the role that the civil society can play in supporting and complementing the efforts of the government.
Moreover, the UNCRPD (Pakistan being a signatory) was discussed and Pakistan’s lack of compliance with most of the stated goals highlighted. Personal experiences of the disability representatives were shared and issues plaguing all parts of the country – from Gilgit Baltistan to Sindh were highlighted.
The meeting identified that the UNCRPD has comprehensive guidelines for the inclusion of persons with disabilities into society but given the lack of follow-up and the confusion surrounding devolution, there is a lack of ownership. HRCP was encouraged to review the CRPD, engage the government, consult with other national stakeholders and proceed towards inclusion through practical steps like SCNIC registration and legal rights information dissemination..