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Islamabad

October 11, 2018

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‘73% polling stations inaccessible for PWDs’

Islamabad : As high as 73% polling stations in NA-243 Karachi east II are inaccessible to Persons With Disabilities (PWDs) in one way or other, reveals an accessibility audit conducted by the Pakistan Alliance for Inclusive Elections (PAIE).

The percentage is worrying in many aspects, especially when the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) had made accessibility of polling stations part of its five-year strategic plan to be implemented prior to general elections 2018. PAIE has demanded of ECP to take immediate steps towards making all the polling stations accessible for PWDs.

Fatimah Shah, Senior Advocacy Officer at Centre for Peace and Development Initiatives, shared that the purpose of the PAIE audit was to present reliable data to stakeholders regarding accessibility in elections and to generate debate on the concerns of PWDs. This issue becomes more important in a scenario where ECP could not resolve accessibility problem before general elections 2018 and now by-elections are approaching with 73% polling stations still inaccessible for PWDs in an urban constituency of Pakistan’s largest city.

Sharing details, Senior Programme Manager at CPDI Raja Shoaib Akbar stated that 30% polling stations did not have a firm and obstacle-free passage leading to the building; 67% buildings did not provide a level access to the entrance of polling station; and 80% of the polling stations not having level access also did not possess a ramp to facilitate wheel chair users in entering the polling station. In 27% cases, protruding objects outside the polling stations pose a challenge on the way, he added.

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