A ROAD TOWARDS DISABILITY LAW REFORMS IN PAKISTAN
Omer Pervaiz Malik
Advocate High Court
Person with disabilities are the most misunderstood community among the vulnerable group in Pakistan. Since the creation of Pakistan disabled persons has never been discussed in the parliament before 1981. In 1981 Zia-ul-Haq took the first initiative towards the legal rights of person with disabilities and an Ordinance named “employment and rehabilitation ordinance 1981” has been passed by the said government. This was the first ever step taken by Pakistan’s government for the Person with disabilities. In 1987 after 6 years procedural rules of the above said ordinance has been passed by the government and after that, this first law was implemented. That law only caters the employment and rehabilitation domain at that time and is so on till the struggle was started for the social model of Disability Rights based law by CBIDN.
HISTORY AND STRUGGLE OF CBID-NETWORK PAKISTAN FOR LEGISLATION IN PROVINCES AND AT FEDERAL LEVEL
In 2002 “National Policy” was introduced to fulfill the other requirements of person with disabilities, woman with disabilities are the major agenda of National Policy and that was the second step towards the policy making process for the person with disabilities after the ordinance in 20 years. But unfortunately by 2006 the implementation still remained silent on the policy and in 2006 again all the stakeholders brought together on one platform and formed the “National Action plan 2006” to implement the National Policy but unfortunately again the result was same no proper implementation took place. In September 2008 Pakistan became signatory of the United Nation Convention on the Rights of Person with Disability. It’s a good sign in Pakistan towards the legislative reforms because now Pakistan has to make changes in the existing laws in line with the international document and ratify the UNCRPD. Because of political instability in and 18th constitutional amendment Disability Chapter became the Provincial Chapter and on 5th July 2011 Pakistan ratified UNCRPD.
HOW IT WAS INITIATED
Since from the Ordinance no major Law reforms about the rights of person with disabilities took placed that’s why stakeholders in Pakistan like NGO, DPOs, INGOs, gathered and thought about the contribution they can contribute for the legislative reforms. In April 2011 All the Stake holders with the Support of Pakistan Bait-ul-maal gathered and DPO council have been formed for the reforms in Pakistan and first time the concept and demand of Pakistan disability Act have been raised. Due to devolution, Disability then became the part of provincial chapter that’s why the DPO Council have been dissolved and on 4 October 2011 CBIDN has been formed with the Provincial Chapters to cater the demands and needs of person with disabilities especially for the efforts of legislation for PWDs, In CBIDN concept of Inclusive society have been adopted as per Incheon Strategy 2011 and all the major stake holders like NGOs, INGOs, DPOs, NPOs have been invited to become the part of CBIDN to promote and raise the voice of person with disabilities to the high ups for legislation.
First Meeting Regarding the Pakistan Disabilities Act has been arranged by CBIDN in Islamabad WHO Office and the first ever Draft of Pakistan Disability Act has been presented by two Organizations HEERA (Highly Enthusiastic & Educative for Rights & Awareness) and AWAM Pakistan, in that meeting stakeholders from all provinces have participated, then the Second meeting on 15 June 2013 was arranged by AWAM Pakistan along with Milestone, Saya, HEERA and other provincial stakeholders at Faisalabad to make the draft more effective and concise according to the actual needs of person with disabilities and after that on November 2013 International consultation meeting have been arranged to make the draft more accurate and authentic under the umbrella of CBIDN, then it was taken up by all the provincial stakeholders to be presented in their respective Provincial Assemblies. Mr. Kamran Akram Sheikh, Mr. Haider Imtiaz, Mr. Muhammad Yar, Tahir Pervaiz Malik and Omer Pervaiz Malik well Known Lawyers put their efforts to finalize draft along with the disability rights activists from all over the provinces, Dr. shahnawaz Monami Asim Zafer, Shafiq ur Rehman, Javed Rais, Naseem Anthony, Riaz Baloch, Ghulam Nabi Nizamani, Zahida Qureshi, and more.
- In 2014, CBIDN and Saya along with the other stakeholders started the series of meeting with the parliamentarians and other political personalities to present this bill to federal level so for the first time this bill has been introduced in National Assembly on 14th July 2014 by Begum Khalida Mansoor Member National Assembly but was turned down because of political controversies.
On 16 January 2018 for the second time this bill has been presented to National Assembly for legislation by Mrs. Shaista Pervaiz Malik(MNA), Tahira Auranzeb (MNA), Kishwar Zahra, Shreen Mizari. This bill was sent to standing committee and then again it was presented to National Assembly for approval and at last on 20th January 2020 Federal Bill has been passed after 9 years of continuous efforts by the National and Provincial Disability Rights Leader. ICT Right of Person with Disability Act, 2019 is now in the process of implementation on federal level.
- On 9th july 2014 a provincial meeting on Legislation for person with disabilities have be called under provincial chapter of CBIDN. In that meeting several NGOs NPOs and DPOs along with Parliamentarians and Provincial members of assembly participated. Local feedback on Draft have been taken and adjusted to the major draft of the above said Draft Bill.
- First time on provincial level “Balochistan Person with Disabilities Act. No II of 2017” has been passed by Balochistan Assembly on 20 may 2017 with continuous efforts of Mr. Riaz Baloch and other stakeholders under the supervision on CBIDN.
- In Sindh, after many consultation meetings with members of provincial assemblies on 24th may 2018 “Sindh Empowerment of Person with disabilities Act 2018” for the first time in pakistan Empowerment of person with disability department has been created to cater the full and effective participation of Person with disabilities in the society, before this disability chapter has been remain the part of social welfare or special education. In this achievement, Mr. Javed Rais DWA, Mr. Ghulam Nabi Nizamani, Mr. Akram, Hands Pakistan and other stakeholders put their efforts tirelessly under the umbrella of CBIDN.
- In Gilgit-Baltistan, “Gilgit-Baltistan Persons with. Disabilities Act 2018” has been passed with the efforts of CBIDN members and stakeholders, since then rules of service yet to be formed, for that purpose stakeholders are putting their efforts collectively.
- In Punjab, Milestone, HEERA, SSP, AWAM and along with the other members of CBIDN, putting their effort to present the said bill to the provincial assembly but is still in process. But after 18th amendment Punjab Government has amended the federal law to provincial law with the minor changes in the structure. Disabled Persons (Employment and Rehabilitation)(Amendment) Act, 2012. In 2014 Disability Policy has been introduced by the provincial government. The upper said law is not social model but the policy made by the Punjab Government is according to the requirement of social model of disability and UNCRPD. The same law is amended again in 2015 to enhance the services and facilities to the person with disabilities and increased the job quota from 2% to 3% and the name of the law was again changed to Disabled Persons (Employment and Rehabilitation)(Amendment) Act, 2015.
- In KPK, Still the efforts by the stakeholders along with the members of CBIDN are in process to pass the legislation for the person with disabilities. Muzamil Islam, Ayaz Khan along with other Disability rights activists are working hard for KPK’s legislation.
CONSTITUTION PETITION NO 64 OF 2013, UNDER ARTICLE 184(3) OF THE ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF PAKISTAN
In 2013, while trying to Pass the said bill from different provinces as well as federal, members of CBID decided to invoke the jurisdiction of Supreme Court for their Disability legal rights provided by the constitution of Pakistan. In that writ Dr. Shahnawaz Munami, Shafiq-ur-Rehman, Asim Zafar, Zahida Qureshi and Ghulam Nabi Nizamani were the Petitioners and all the major departments like Railway, PIA, Pemra etc.. were the respondents and well known lawyer Mr. Kamran Sheikh were the Counsel for the petitioners and he gave his services voluntarily. Now along with the efforts to pass the disability bill a complete and comprehensive writ is also in the Supreme Court for the rights of PWDs. On 16 March 2017 court ordered to Statistic Bureau to include person with disability in the survey for upcoming census but unfortunately PWDs were again unable to be counted because of lack of system, But Statistic Bureau formed a committee and included the PWDs in PSLM then Supreme have addressed the issues of PWDs one by one and ordered to provide Accessibility, Education, Employment, Health Facilities, and so on.
EXPECTATION FROM THE LEGISLATION BY FEDERAL AND PROVINCES
When this effort has been started at that time there is no right base approach exists, no awareness available at both level, no sensitization is there, but after this effort started slowly members of CBIDN were able to create awareness among the departments, general peoples and society, and know federal and provincial laws are there to protect the rights of person with disabilities, the only thing remain is the implementation of these laws with its true spirit of right based approach.
All the stakeholders in this journey has put their full and effective participation to drag the situation to the current level and now they are try more hard to implement those laws for the future of the community. Thus CBIDN network is the key factor involved in legislation process and binding all the stakeholders together despite of 18th amendment.