For the most of us, living in perfect health, thinking about the disabled does not form part of our consciousness. The disabled are often ignored, neglected or are castrated from society altogether. This attitude is alarming especially, when according to neurological experts, Pakistan has one of the largest disabled populations in the world.
In fact, according to a recent statistic given by Prof. Muhammad Wasay, President of the Pakistan Society of Neurology, there are about, ‘two million physically or mentally handicapped children, who comprise 43% of the total disabled population of the country.’ Giving further statistics, Prof. Wasay narrates that nearly 5.903% of the population is disabled and unfortunately, that rate is increasing at a disturbing pace of 2.65% every year.
However, all is not lost as there are still organizations and institutes that care to serve the disabled. The Network of Organizations Working with People with Disabilities, Pakistan (NOWPDP), in collaboration with Sindh Social Welfare Department made it possible for 200 disabled people to apply for Special Computerised National Identity Card (SNIC) on Thursday, at the NOWPDP office in Saddar.
Giving people with disabilities a special identity will ensure they receive their due rights and will also enable the government to recognize people with special needs and allocate a specific budget to fulfill these needs. Perhaps one of the most powerful benefits would be the chance to apply for jobs against the two percent quota provided.
Despite the good intentions, the process of acquiring the SNIC is troublesome and requires a lengthy process. Applicants have to first get an employment exchange card, a medical assessment and a disability certificate. Once obtained, all of these have to be approved by the welfare department and then applicants can proceed forward to apply for the SNIC via NADRA. To ensure that these procedures do not hamper the registration process, NOWPDP invited concerned officials from various departments to cater to the process in their office. With this initiative, special people can now easily obtain their identity cards without having to go through time-consuming procedures.
We hope that in the time to come, the disabled in Pakistan may get more recognition and that concrete steps are taken to cater to their basic needs.