We encounter many problems and issues when liaising with/for disabled persons in Pakistan. Do not get me wrong; I know what the difficulties or issues faced by Persons with Disabilities in the West, especially in the UK (a ‘ welfare state’) but under this Conservative government, it almost feels like everything is collapsing in the social care sector.
Nevertheless in Pakistan and Gilgit Baltistan, the main thing is that there is no awareness around Persons with Disabilities. What exactly is meant by awareness? This term provides vagueness. When people say there is no awareness or a lack of awareness around PWDs, it always poses a riddle to some people when it should not. In this context, I think understanding means that people are not fully accepting of what disabled people face. We need to move from a medical/scientific phenomenon to a more egalitarian way of defining what a disability is. For example, think of smokers; some people are not, and some people are. Similarly, some people are disabled; some people are not.
I think the way to achieve this ideal state (even though you can not get 100% ideal anywhere, not even in the UK or the US) is to introduce disability-related inclusion classes in Gilgit Baltistan for all ages, irrespective of gender. To put it in another way, I think the main problem around GB with the government and society is that they procrastinate on this topic as there is no one apart from the disabled population expressing their concerns over the rights of PWDs.
However, with time, I think that civil society should have a responsibility to protect and guarantee the rights of PWDs, but we are not there yet. I would even extend the definition of civil society not to the national or regional but to the international society. It is widely acknowledged that this matter is of great concern, yet it seems to be overlooked and not given the attention it deserves and not given the attention it deserves.
How long can one blame officials if society does not stand up for the rights of persons with disabilities? We need to change this.