Punjab government to introduce new law for people with disabilities

Islamabad: The Punjab’s Minister of Social Affairs and Bait ul Maal Syed Yawer Abbas Bukhari, Minister of Punjab, said on Sunday that the government of Punjab has drafted a law to guarantee the rights of people with disabilities under which all kinds of social rights and economic benefits would be granted to disabled people in the country.

He was speaking here at a two-day event organized by the Aawaz II program in collaboration with its provincial partner Peace and Justice Network (PJN). The main objective of the event was to improve understanding of inclusion and tolerance among Aawaz II partners and to build the knowledge and capacities of key members of the program team in 13 districts of the Punjab.

Over 120 provincial stakeholders including social activists, Aawaz II forum members, Aawaz II change agents, district partners and Aawaz II field teams participated in the event. The provincial minister highlighted the main features of the proposed bill and said he hopes that this bill will be passed by the Assembly into law by December 3, 2021.

Ansar Majeed Khan Niazi, Minister of Labor and Human Resources of Punjab participated in the inaugural session and briefed the participants on new initiatives from the ministries.

Dr Yasmin Zaidi, leader of the Aawaz II team, stressed the importance of including vulnerable segments of the population in ordinary life. She appreciated the efforts of Aawaz II district partners to bring together people with disabilities, transgender people and religious minorities on the Aawaz II platform.

She also explained how Aawaz II promotes tolerance and inclusion in society. Mahindar Pall Singh, Punjab’s Parliamentary Secretary for Human Rights and Minorities, stressed the importance of interfaith harmony for peaceful societies. He appreciated the Aawaz II Learning and Development Forum for organizing the event, which he described as fully inclusive.

Ansar Majeed, Minister of Labor and Human Resources of Punjab, in his speech recognized the rights of domestic workers and said that the process of registering domestic workers is underway in Punjab which will help fight against labor children in the province.

A panel discussion on the rights of persons with disabilities was attended by Sana Khurshid, lawyer and PWD activist, lawyer Pervaiz Malik, Mr. Shafiq ur Rehman, PWD activist, and Zahida, PWD activist.

They recommended making homes, public places and transportation systems more accessible.

Panelists called for a comprehensive set of laws to protect the rights and dignity of people with disabilities in all aspects of life. Participants in the Punjab Learning and Development Forum also highlighted filling vacancies according to the minority quota for all government jobs, public housing programs, social welfare services like BISP and the Ehsaas program, and educational opportunities at all levels.

Other distinguished speakers and participants at the event included Dr Baela Raza Jamil, civil society leader and child rights activist; Irfan Gondal, director of the Punjab Council for the Disabled; Dawood Abdullah, director of the Punjab labor department; Iftikhar Mubarak, child rights activist; Zanaya Chaudary, transgender rights activist; and Chaman Lal, minority rights activist. During the closing session of the event, participants presented their action plans for the future implementation of the Aawaz II program.

Arshad Mehmood, Aawaz II deputy team leader, cast the vote of thanks. The Aawaz II program works with local communities in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab to promote the rights of children, women, youth and other vulnerable groups, in order to work for a more inclusive, tolerant and peaceful Pakistan. Aawaz II is a program managed by the British Council. A law to guarantee the rights of people with disabilities under which all kinds of social and economic rights would be granted to people with disabilities in the country.

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