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February 15, 2018

Disabled people move court for free healthcare


February 15, 2018

PESHAWAR: The disabled people from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on Wednesday moved the Peshawar High Court (PHC), seeking direction for the federal and provincial governments to prepare a coherent policy for their legal rights and ensure their free healthcare facilities in government schemes and hospitals.

The writ was filed by two disabled persons including Asad Khan and Sher Alam Khan from Mardan district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa through their lawyer Barrister Asadul Mulk.

The petition stated that the disabled persons had diagnosed themselves three years ago and were informed that their condition was curable, but to treat it, they would have to incur medical cost of up to Rs150,000 each. Since then, they have approached state authorities at different levels, requesting financial assistance to avail a treatment, which is likely to have a life altering effect, it added.

Unfortunately, the possibility of the state financing their treatment is as remote as ever, which is why they approached the Human Rights Directorate at the Peshawar High Court, to direct the governments for their assistance.

However, the directorate entrusted Barrister Asadul Mulk with the case, who has filed the lengthy public interest constitutional petition discussing various international treaties to which Pakistan is a signatory.

In Pakistan, the number of persons living with disabilities varies between 3.3 million and 27 million, depending on whether government statistics or those of international agencies are relied upon.

In the petition, the high court is invited to follow the lead of the European Court of Human Rights and the jurisprudence of India to recognise a limited right in favour of the most destitute class.

Interestingly, in its judgment reported as 2011 PLD 619, the Supreme Court of Pakistan held that, “The right to life includes all those aspects of life which go to make a man’s life meaningful, complete and worth living. Right to life implies the right to food, water, decent environment, education, medical care and shelter.”

However, it said the Supreme Court did not lay down the minimum positive steps the state had to take to discharge its obligation in providing medical care and the state has not clarified it either.

The petition said that the ratification of international human right treaties by the government of Pakistan is meaningless unless there is some actual implementation of these treaties.

It further added that Pakistan is a signatory to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (Disabled Persons) Convention, which cover the rights of disabled citizens comprehensively.

Additionally, Pakistan is a signatory to instruments such the Equality of Treatment (Social Security) Convention, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Right, which cover the rights of the disabled in general.

“It is the petitioners’ case that the federal and provincial governments have done little to germinate the content of their rights as elaborated in the above mentioned international instruments in domestic law and social policy,” it added.

The government of Pakistan through secretary Ministry of National Health Services, director Ministry of National Health Services, secretary Finance Division, secretary for Law and Justice Division, managing director of Pakistan Bait-ul-Maal, secretary Benazir Income Support Programme, Khyber Pakh-tunkhwa government through chief secretary and others were made parities in the petition.

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