ISLAMABAD: Pakistani government departments have started implementing a 2 percent job quota for people with disabilities at all federal ministries, a senior official at the human rights ministry said on Wednesday.
Human Rights Watch estimates that the number of people living with various intellectual and physical disabilities in Pakistan, a country of 220 million, varies from 3.3 million to 27 million.
Pakistani law requires that 2 percent of people employed by an establishment be “disabled persons.” A Supreme Court ruling last year obliged the federal and provincial governments to take steps to realize equal participation of people with disabilities in accordance with the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which Pakistan ratified in 2011.
“On the instructions of Prime Minister Imran Khan, establishment division has formally instructed all ministries, divisions, attach departments and commissions working under federal government to strictly implement 2 percent quota of disabled persons in jobs,” Human Rights Ministry director general Muhammad Arshad told Arab News on Wednesday.
“Work has been started to implement this by providing jobs to disabled persons in all federal government departments in Pakistan,” he said. “For this purpose, the government has also established a new council, Council for the Rights of Disabled Persons, which is working on it and following it with all federal ministries.”
Until now, the 2 percent job quota has been widely unimplemented, with only a small number of persons with disabilities employed by different government departments.
“The government passed a legislation in December 2020 which required every office and government building to have accessibility options for special people, but even that law has not been fully implemented,” rights activist Muhammad Atif Sheikh told Arab News.
He added that a major issue was the lack of data on how many Pakistanis lived with disabilities as such questions were not included in the census process in Pakistan.
“Data is the biggest challenge,” he said. “The latest census conducted in Pakistan in 2017 showed there were only 0.09 percent disabled people in the country since the authorities did not ask questions related to the issue.”
Saqlain Shah, a visually impaired graduate, has been applying for government jobs since 2018, but says that until now has not received any response.
“We get response from private organizations, but it is very hard to find a job opening at government departments, he said. “Officials only respond when we apply for low-income jobs but they mostly remain silent when we apply for higher positions.”