Will Pakistan Tehreek-E-Insaaf Gilgit Baltistan be able to fulfill its promise to the Differently Abled Community of Gilgit Baltistan?
On the 26th of July 2022, the Gilgit Baltistan’s Blinds United Movement (GBBUM) protested on a one-point agenda outside the Gilgit Baltistan Chief Minister’s House. The demand was that under the Persons with Disabilities, 2019, Gilgit Baltistan Act, 15 members of the Blind Community should be appointed to government jobs as soon as possible in Gilgit, while ten blind persons should be appointed in every other district of Gilgit Baltistan. The purpose of the protest was to show that the disabled community was united on this one-point agenda. Many individuals from Gilgit, Hunza, Baltistan, Chilas, and Ghizer were willing to protest until their demand was met.
So what is the issue? Disabled persons in Gilgit Baltistan campaigned for their rights in 2019, and under the then Hafiz Government, the bill was passed. Some of the extracts of the bill are ‘The government shall take all necessary measures to ensure that Persons with Disabilities are afforded equal rights to access in private and public educational institutions and shall be provided with adequate facilities for their education without any discrimination. The government shall ensure that
Persons with Disabilities to be treated at par with persons without such
disabilities and they are not discriminated against in the exercise of their rights’. While this is the ideal law in nature, in reality, this does not happen. For example, in Gilgit-Baltistan, no local government facilities reinforce the law related to persons with disabilities. There are no higher educational facilities for persons with disabilities. A person with a disability is treated more like a burden than someone who requires medical, social, and emotional assistance.
It is a given that Persons with Disabilities are unequally treated in Pakistan; however, different organizations in the federal and other provincial states enforce the law of the land, such as Bait-Ul-Mal. Therefore, while GB is more rural than other states, it does not mean that the government should abandon them. For instance, Hunza has a 95% literacy rate for both genders. However, compared to the rest of the country, the average is 55% for the boys and 42% for the girls (Al-Jazeera). Therefore the problem is not that government officials are not educated about this; the problem is implementation.
infrastructure to diagnose, facilitate/assist and integrate differently-abled persons into mainstream society. ‘ Again, this is an ideal utopia that every person with a disability desires, but it is not being implemented at the grassroot level.
In no way are we personally directing an anti-PTI post, but having said that, why hasn’t the PTI government its own 2018 manifesto, which reads that ‘ Create a more caring Pakistan for people with special needs
We will take a rights-based approach to provide the necessary resources and
We, Persons with disabilities, showed that we could peacefully demonstrate outside the CM’s office. However yet, the government showed hesitancy in fulfilling our demands. On the 1st night of the protest, there was a feeling amongst the protesters that there was a plan by the government to use force against the protesters outside CM House were we to stay longer. Nevertheless, on the morning of the 2nd day, as the government promised that the Chief Minister would instruct the Social Welfare Minister to form a committee where disabled representatives would express their grievances with their Assistant Commissioner and District Commissioner, GBBUM ended the protest. However, GBBUM will decide whether the protest is needed again if the government does not fulfill the demand. Only time will tell if Pakistan Tehreek-E-Insaaf Gilgit Baltistan fulfills its promise to the Differently Abled Community of Gilgit Baltistan.
Despite these ongoing issues with the government, the disabled community fully supports the government’s actions regarding the violent incident on Saturday, the 30th of June. GBGM and GBBUM support the government’s position on restoring Law and Order in Gilgit.