As according to international organizations, Persons With Disabilities (PWDs) constitute about ten to fifteen percent of world’s population and by implication Pakistan’s also, it is relevant to see where we stand in terms of policy formulation and its implementation for PWDs. Because proper implementation of right policies provides the ladder for the society’s progress. so far, PWDs in Pakistan have had 1981 ordinance; 2002 National policy; 2006 Action Plan; and, 2008 the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities (UNCRPD) designed to address their issues. But unfortunately none has succeeded to provide intended benefits to PWDs.

Probably NGOs working for PWDs focus more on services because this is what people want in immediate terms, or it takes less time to show results, brings more media attention, is less costly and is easier to show progress by providing some services to some PWDs than “wasting time and resources” on “less attractive” aspects such as planning or legislation. In over four years, no one either in government sector or from NGOs has so far produced even a draft legislation to incorporate provisions of UNCRPD in Pakistani legal system or made a draft policy based on principles of convention.

Whatever reasons for poor and faulty policies and planning, fact of matter is that UNCRPD in Pakistan, like constitution of country seems powerful instrument and very attractive to speak about. But it has been turned into a manipulating tool in hands of its supposed enforcers, about which they selectively but very enthusiastically talk, but do not implement. It is therefore high time that we ensure the proper formulation and implementation of our policies for PWDs or otherwise. The first step should be to shift the focus from ‘charity’ or ‘medical based approach’ to a ‘rights-based approach’ towards PWDs, which recognizes that persons with disabilities should be empowered to become productive part of the society. Moreover, all of our policies concerning PWDs or otherwise should carry effective enforcement and monitoring mechanisms. Because any policy is not worth the paper it is written on unless properly enforced and implemented.

By: Muhammad Mobin Uddin (Chief Editor)

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