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Rights activists slam abolition of job quota for PWDs

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The decision will add to the woes of PWDs that make 15 per cent of the population, says activist

News Desk

Islamabad: The human rights defenders have condemned the government’s decision to abolish two per cent employment quota for differently-abled persons in public and private entities.

In a statement issued on Sunday, the Potohar Mental Health Association (PMHA) termed the decision “regressive” and called upon the government to reverse it to ensure the protection of the rights of persons living with disabilities (PWDs).

It stated that instead of reforming the current policies and providing relief to the PWDs during the pandemic, the government has deprived them of their fundamental right to employment by abolishing the job quota.

The government through a presidential ordinance early May amended various sections of the Companies Act, 2017, deleting Section 459 of the act that had ensured employment opportunities for the PWDs by allocating two per cent quota for them in the public and private sectors entities.

The ordinance was promulgated to clear those people who entered into plea bargain with the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) for their appointment as directors of different companies.

Out of 33 million PWDs, only 10% are able to enrol in any special education institute and only 1% of them reach to any university,–Zulqarnain Asghar

The Ordinance 1981 earmarked one per cent employment quota for PWDs that was later increased to two per cent by the Pakistan Peoples’ Party government in 2009. “But this government has abolished the quota with one stroke of pen depriving them of already scarce job opportunities.

Earlier, companies not hiring PWDs or having inaccessible offices could be fined but now they are not bound to take such measures,” says the statement.

Campaigners fear other organizations will follow suit and it will increase exclusionary practices for the PWDs who already face discriminatory behaviours at all levels.

Zulqarnain Asghar, Chief Executive of PMHA, said the PWDs are already marginalized and deprived of their rights and opportunities and such kind of regressive steps will further exclude them from the society.

“Finding a job in any organization both public and private is a hard struggle for them and abolishing job quota would further add to the woes of PWDs that make 15 per cent of the population,” he added.

Out of 33 million PWDs, only 10 percent are able to enrol in any special education institution and only 1 per cent of them reach to any university. Consequently, only a few are able to find any jobs despite the allocation of quota as it is never implemented in letter and spirit.

“Often persons without disabilities occupy the positions allocated for PWDs. Prime Minister’s Special Assistant on Social Protection and Poverty Alleviation Dr Sania Nishtar is often seen giving statements for PWDs on media but practically they have reversed the rules that ensure economic and employment opportunities for them,” said Mr Asghar.

“Their words and actions don’t match and their actions speak volumes about their intentions and political will”.

Dr Bashir Hussain Shah, a psychologist and social media activist also condemned the abolition of the job quota for differently-abled persons and described it yet another anti-people move by the so-called ‘Naya Pakistan’ proponents.

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