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June 1, 2020

Rights activists decry abolition of job quota for PWDs

Islamabad

June 1, 2020

Islamabad : The rights activists have condemned the government’s decision to abolish two per cent employment quota of Persons living with Disabilities (PWDs) in companies.

In a statement issued by Potohar Mental Health Association (PMHA) on Sunday, the association termed the decision regressive and called upon the government to reverse this decision in order to ensure the protection of the rights of PWDs.

It stated that instead of bringing reforms and change into the lives of PWDs as claimed, the government has violated their right to employment by abolishing the job quota through an Ordinance.

The government promulgated a Presidential Ordinance in early May to amend various sections of the Companies Act, 2017, deleting Section 459 of the act that had ensured employment opportunities for the PWDs by allocating two per cent quota for them in the public and private companies. The Ordinance was promulgated to clear those people who entered into plea bargain with the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) for their appointment as directors of different companies.

The Ordinance 1981 earmarked one per cent employment quota for PWDs that was later increased to two per cent by the Pakistan Peoples’ Party government in 2009. “But this government has abolished the quota with one stroke of the pen depriving them of already scarce job opportunities. Earlier, companies not hiring PWDs or having inaccessible offices could be fined but now they are not bound to take such measures,” says the statement.

Campaigners fear other organizations will follow suit and it will increase exclusionary practices for the PWDs who already face discriminatory behaviours at all levels.

Zulqurnain Asghar, Chief Executive of PMHA, said the community of PWDs is already marginalized and devoid of their rights and opportunities and such kind of regressive steps will further exclude them from the society. “Finding a job in any organization both public and private is a hard struggle for them and abolishing quota would further add to the woes of PWDs that make 15 per cent of the population,” he added.

Out of 33 million PWDs, only 10 percent are able to enrol in any special education institution and only 1 per cent of them reach to any university. Consequently, only a few are able to find any jobs despite the allocation of quota as it is never implemented in letter and spirit. “Often persons without disabilities occupy the positions allocated for PWDs. Prime Minister’s Special Assistant on Social Protection and Poverty Alleviation Dr. Sania Nishtar is often seen giving statements for PWDs on media but practically they have reversed the rules that ensure economic and employment opportunities for them,” said Asghar.