Gilgit - Baltistan

Why #justiceforpersonswithdisabilities should be on the mind of everyone in Gilgit Baltistan?

The following is a letter received from the Gilgit-Baltistan Goodwill Movement – GBGM

During the 2021 election campaign, voters were promised that the PTI GB government would bring change. An Enlightenment of the sort. Voters almost felt like that PTI MPA’s were, in fact, revolutionaries who rebelled from the status Quo. We, as disabled individuals, hoped so too. Nevertheless, hope is an illusion when it comes to politicians or bureaucrats.

PTI GB stood on a manifesto that Imran Khan, our prime minister, approved in the 2018 General election. One key element of that manifesto was to uplift and support the needs of people with disabilities (PWD’s), where the PTI said that ‘ the 2% quota allocated for the disabled is often not implemented in spirit. Worst of all, Pakistan ignored the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, a signatory, by not collecting critical data on persons with disabilities in the National census…. In addition, we will provide training, skills, and finance through public-private partnerships for differently-abled persons and income support for differently-abled persons with severe disabilities.’  We are sure that the PTI governments in other provinces, Punjab and KPK, are implementing Imran Khan’s vision, but this is not the case in Gilgit Baltistan.

Why do these revolutionaries follow some of Khan’s targets and objectives, and why not others. PTI Spokespersons conclude that work has been implemented regarding people with disabilities in Gilgit Baltistan? Where, in La La Land?

Khan Saheb is a visionary leader, but his team is not. In Gilgit Baltistan, where there is to a certain extent, gender equality, higher levels of educational attainment, and interfaith harmony, why is the government lacking behind on implementing specific policies for the differently-abled community? In an interview, Farhan Baig, the president of the Gilgit Baltistan Goodwill Movement, said that disabled people of Gilgit Baltistan must be protected under the Pakistani constitution, which legally bounds the state to protect the most vulnerable. Moreover, he highlighted that if the GILGIT-BALTISTAN PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES ACT, 2019, were implemented, it would meet international standards and may be better in some aspects than other laws.

Farhan went on to say that if we do not see any radical change in the government, we will not think about protesting; we will. The PTI Government has so far failed in engaging with the disabled community. These politicians are not in favor of Mera Kaaptan’s vision; instead, they are fans of themselves; otherwise, why would they fail in achieving targets set by Imran Khan, who wants equity in our society. We have seen the government is not taking action over certain institutions that have deprived the rights of the disabled community, whether that is in Gilgit, Chilas, or Ghizer. We want to see change. In these cities, government buildings, which were properties for training persons with disabilities, have been taken over by other agencies such as the National Accountability  Bureau.  Mumtaz Ali, Finance Secretary of Goodwill Movement, added that the government had ignored the special education department in upcoming vacancies, affecting differently-abled citizens of Chilas, Skardu, and Ghizer, where they have not even hired a chokidar. We appeal to the government to improve these changes within our society before investing in other issues.

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