Islamabad: President Dr. Arif Alvi said Tuesday that disabled people in society deserved access to education and employment as their “just right rather than a charity”.
“The state is responsible for changing society in such a way that it accepts and includes people with disabilities in all walks of life,” said the president in his address at a wheelchair distribution ceremony held here at Aiwan-e-Sadr.
The Azerbaijan Embassy in Islamabad donated 100 customized wheelchairs to disabled people in Pakistan at an event attended by First Lady Samina Alvi, Azerbaijan’s Ambassador Ali Alizada, and a number of disabled people, including children.
President Alvi stressed that people with disabilities should take an inclusive approach by teaching them in regular schools rather than excluding them from specialized institutes.
He said people with physical, visual or hearing impairments could easily be accepted into the normal school system, followed by targeted skilled training for their placement in the workplace.
“It is time to move away from the stereotypical approach to disabled people and give them opportunities and access to facilities,” he said. He stressed the proper implementation of the disability quota in jobs and the training provided by the National Vocational and Technical Training Commission (NAVTTC) and the Technical Education and Training Authority (TEVTA) to achieve effective results.
The President mentioned that of the social agenda he and his wife initiated, the lifting of disabled people is a priority and “an issue that matters to them.” He said the government, as part of the Ehsaas project, had registered two million people with disabilities to pay out the scholarship, while the banks had also started programs to offer loans to special people to run small and medium-sized businesses.
The president mentioned that the chairman of the Capital Development Authority had assured him that all sidewalks in Islamabad would have ramps by March, along with 250 public parks that are slated to become wheelchair accessible in the near future.
He said the government is working with the business community of Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi to make the marketplaces accessible to the disabled.
He said a survey found that around 15 percent of Pakistan’s population suffer from various forms of disabilities that require accessible environments in buildings and public spaces.
He pointed out that the lack of facilities in public places forced families to lock their disabled members at home. The President sincerely thanked Azerbaijan for giving wheelchairs to disabled people in Pakistan. The precious gesture of compassion is the belief in respect for the rights of these people.
He commended Ambassador Ali Alizada for his commendable work in contributing to Pakistan’s social development by launching projects in the fields of education, culture, the environment and health, including supporting the thalassemia center in Islamabad.
Dr. Alvi mentioned that Pakistan and Azerbaijan had a friendship based on a common religion and culture of “caring for weaker social classes”. He also congratulated Azerbaijan on the liberation of the territories it had captured from Armenia in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
Azerbaijan’s Ambassador Ali Alizada said the memorable event of donating wheelchairs was an expression of the support the two countries gave to the rights of people with disabilities. He said President Dr. Arif Alvi to Azerbaijan for tailor-made wheelchairs shows his personal commitment to the well-being of disabled people.
President Alvi and Begum Samina Alvi also attended the exhibition of handicrafts and paintings made by children with disabilities, ages 12-15, and appreciated their talent. Since the majority of the audience was in a wheelchair, the President and First Lady came up to them one by one and greeted them with words of encouragement and appreciation.
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