The rise and fall of Gadoon Industries

Policy

The rise and fall of Gadoon Industries
Initially the Gadoon Amazai Industrial Estate was lavishly granted incentives, but then neglected and left to ruin. However, a comprehensive package for investors can save the dying industries
By Tahir Ali

http://jang.com.pk/thenews/Dec2012-weekly/nos-30-12-2012/pol1.htm#1

If the establishment of the Gadoon Amazai Industrial Estate (GAIE) in an area located far away from the sea-port with no raw material was wrong, the abrupt withdrawal of incentives announced earlier for attracting investment in it was even more appalling. The Sarhad Development Authority gives advice on the technical, operational and commercial feasibilities of industrial projects, but it could not be ascertained whether it had recommended the GAIE or not.

“The industries whose raw material was abundantly available here — the agriculture processing, packaging and paper board, furniture, cigarette and its allied industries — were neglected,” according to Mumtazuddin, an economist and industrialist.

According to Rangeen Shah, former secretary of the Gadoon Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI), no industrial estate should have been established at first at such a distant place as Gadoon. “There were no raw materials and market available for industries here. High transportation cost on getting raw material from, and sending finished goods to, other provinces made the GAIE products less competitive. But when incentives were announced once, these should not have been withdrawn on the pressure of industrialists from other areas,” he said.

He said Gadoon had been harmed by policy makers, not industrialists. “With incentives withdrawn in 1991, Gadoon ceased to attract fresh investment and the factories already there mostly closed down or began minimal production. Out of 270 units in operation then, around 120 are running round the clock or in one or two shifts. However, it were the small industries that were closed and the bigger ones who had built huge infrastructure were constrained to be retained and even expanded,” he added.

Zahid Shinwari, ex-president of the GCCI and the vice-president of the KP Chamber of Commerce and Industries, said the factories here already faced cost differential of about 25 per cent and the incentives had brought them at par with their other counterparts. “But when these incentives were withdrawn, industries went into losses. At its peak, there were around 80,000 employees in the estate but their number is around 16,000 these days. Out of 270 factories, only 73 are fully operational of late. No new factory has been established since then.”

According to an industrialist, Ghulam Mohiuddin, while around 75 per cent industries had been closed down following the withdrawal of incentives, the situation had improved due to the industrial package announced by former prime minister Yousaf Raza Gilani in 2009. “Under the war of terror package, industries in the KP were given exemptions from sales tax, income tax and excise duty on different ratios for three years. These expired in June 2012 and need to be extended for another two to three years,” he suggested.

Continuous loadshedding of electricity and gas has forced many of the industries to work in one or two shifts. Units closed or working in one or two shifts could not sustain for long. The problem has been multiplied by the fact that most of the technical employees belong to Punjab and once they leave, they cannot be available again easily.

 

The estate and the incentives:

The Rs10 billion GAIE project, spread over 1116 acres, situated over 100km to the East of Peshawar, was created after seven poppy growers were killed in anti-poppy operation in the area in 1987. The GAIE was initially planned to have 600 factories. Predominant industries include textile, chemicals, steel, and PVCs and plastic industries.

The estate has spacious roads, drainage and water supply system, communication system, power and gas facilities and standard schooling and medical facilities at Tarbela, lying close to it, and Peshawar.

In 1989, the government of late Benazir Bhutto announced several incentives for the industries in the province and the GAIE.

The incentives for the province-wide industries included an income tax holiday for 8 years, exemption from sales tax for 5 years and exemption from custom duty on imported machinery. For the GAIE, additional incentives were announced that included duty free import of raw materials, 50 per cent concession in power tariff and provision of loans at 3 per cent mark up.

In May 1991, the Nawaz Sharif government withdrew these incentives given to the GAIE under pressure from the Punjab industrialists and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the US because such incentives had not been given to other industrial estates.

Since the withdrawal of incentives, the shifting of machinery from the GAIE was banned but it continued stealthily. However, in May 2012, the industrialists and the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government have agreed to lift the ban. This caused the departure of more industries from the estate.

In 2003, the estate was converted to an Export Processing Zone by Syed Iftikhar Hussain Shah, the then provincial governor. But the plan seems to have been shelved. According to Shinwari, the concerned authority had expressed reservations over the decision and the file is still lying there.

In 2007, representatives of the US government visited the GAIE and vowed to revive some industries under the Reconstruction Opportunity Zone programme, under which goods from the Gadoon estate were to be exported to the US duty-free. But the idea could not materialise because the US Congress rejected the bill.

Experts suggest that incentives and industrialisation go hand in hand. Both are interlinked. For example, when the package for the GAIE was announced, over 200 industries were established within no time there. But when they were withdrawn, the pace of industrialisation slowed down, rather reverted.

 

What needs to be done?

According to Mumtazuddin, the estate can be revived as and when the government creates a conducive environment for investment by improving security situation and announcing a comprehensive package for the investors. “First of all, the government should announce that whosoever intends to establish industries will not be asked about his sources of income. Then it should give soft loans without requiring collateral and with prolonged grace period. Interest on industrial loans should in no way exceed 12-15 per cent. Subsidies on loans, power/gas tariff, industrial plots and sales and income taxes and rebate in custom and excise duty on import of raw material and machinery should be announced,” he proposed.

“Sales and income tax rebate for five years be announced for the GAIE. Gas and power loadshedding be minimised if not eliminated altogether. Any possible reduction in gas and power tariff will be welcome,” Rangeen Shah pleads.

“To give it a level playing field, the estate deserves a permanent reduction of 25 per cent in sales/income tax and power/gas tariff. This will not only revive the sick industries but also encourage fresh investment. This rebate in taxes, as suggested by the Federal Board of Revenue, will revive industries which will lead to paying more taxes and clearance of stuck up bank loans on their part,” Shinwari concluded.

 

No benefits for the locals

The establishment of the GAIE was pushed by a desire to provide jobs and livelihood to the locals to stop them from poppy cultivation. However, no homework was done on the skill development of the locals. A technical college promised for training of local children and developing manpower for the estate is yet to be built.

The result was that the locals were kept only as watchmen or labourers while technicians were hired from Punjab and Sindh.

This partly explains why poppy cultivation started in some parts of Gadoon again. In April 2012, the government had to conduct operation to destroy poppy crop grown over 34 kanals in some remote Gadoon villages.

Shinwari said had there been a technical college that had trained the locals, they would have been employed at the GAIE. “Non-availability of technicians locally forced the industrialists to hire them from Punjab and elsewhere. However over 80 per cent of the non-technical staff are locals,” he informed.

According to a blogger on Swabi online, GAIE once had 580 industries and mills but due to improper planning, it is losing its charm. “Labourers worked for 12 hours and no week-end leave, no casual leave and no medical leave were allowed to them. So when the GAIE incentives were withdrawn, the locals and labour leaders remained indifferent,” the blogger says.

But Zahid Shinwari said though there may be labour rights violations in the estate by some factories and individual entrepreneurs, the labour laws are overall followed. The concerned departments routinely check the implementation of these rules.

…………………..

Original text of the article as it was sent to The News.

Gadoon Amazai Industrial Estate: first lavishly bestowed, then neglected

By Tahir Ali

If the establishment of the Gadoon Amazai industrial Estate (GAIE) in an area located far away from the sea-port with no raw material was wrong, the abrupt withdrawal of incentives announced earlier for attracting investment in it was even more appalling.

The Sarhad Development Authority gives advice on the technical, operational and commercial feasibilities of industrial projects but it could not be ascertained whether it had recommended the GAIE or not.

“The industries whose raw material was abundantly available here –like the agriculture processing, packaging and paper board, furniture, cigarette and its allied industries –were neglected,” according to Mumtazuddin, a historian and industrialist.

According to a Rangeen Shah, former secretary of the Gadoon Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI), no industrial estate should have been established at first at such a distant place as Gadoon. “There were no raw materials and market available for industries here. High transportation cost on getting raw material from, and sending finished goods to, other provinces made the GAIE products less competitive. But when incentives were announced once, these should not have been withdrawn on the pressure of industrialists from other areas?” he said.

He said Gadoon had been harmed by policy makers, not industrialists. “With incentives withdrawn in 1991, Gadoon ceased to attract fresh investment and the factories already there mostly closed down or began minimal production. Out of 270 units in operation then, around 120 are running round the clock or in one or two shifts.  However, it were the small industries that were closed and the bigger ones who had built huge infrastructure were constrained to be retained and even expanded,” he added.

Zahid Shinwari, the ex president of the GCCI and the vice president of the KP chamber of commerce and industries, said the factories here already faced cost differential of about 25 per cent and the incentives had brought them at par with their other counterparts. But when these were withdrawn, industries went into losses. At its peak, there were around 80000 employees in the estate but their number is around 16000 these days. Out of 270 factories, only 73 are fully operational of late. No new factories have been established since then,” he said.

According to an industrialist Ghulam Mohiuddin, while around 75 per cent industries had been closed down following the withdrawal of incentives, the situation had improved for the industrial package announced by PM Yousaf Gilani in 2009. “Under the war of terror package, industries in KP were given exemptions from sales tax, income tax and excise duty on different ratios for 3 years. These expired in June 2012 and need to be extended for another two to three years,” he said.

Continuous load-shedding of electricity and gas has forced many of the industries to work in one or two shifts. Units closed or working in one or two shifts cannot sustain for long. The problem has been multiplied by the fact that most of the technical employees belong to the Punjab and once they leave, they cannot be available again easily.

Locals could not benefit

The establishment of the GAIE was pushed by a desire to provide jobs and livelihood means to the locals to stop them from poppy cultivation in future. However, no homework was done on the skill development of the locals. A technical college promised for training of local children and developing manpower for the estate is yet to be built.

The result was that the locals were kept only as watchmen or chaprasis while technicians were hired from Punjab and Sindh.

This partly explains why poppy cultivation started in some parts of Gadoon again. In April 2012, the government had to conduct operation to destroy poppy crop grown over 34 kanals in some remote Gadoon villages.

Shinwari said had there been a technical college that had trained the locals, they would have been employed at the GAIE. “Non-availability of technicians locally forced the industrialists to hire them from Punjab and elsewhere. However over 80 per cent of the non-technical staff are locals,” he informed.

According to a blogger on Swabi online, GAIE once had 580 industries and mills but due to improper planning, it is losing its charm. “The biggest of reasons was that labourers worked for 12 hours and no week-end leave, no casual leave and no medical leave were allowed to them. So when the GAIE incentives were withdrawn, the locals and labour leaders remained indifferent,” he says.

But Zahid Shinwari said there may be labour rights violations in the estate by some factories and individual entrepreneurs but labour laws are overall followed. The concerned departments routinely check the implementation of these rules.

The estate and the incentives

The Rs10 billion GAIE project, spread over 1116 acres, situated over 100km to the East of Peshawar, was created after seven poppy growers were killed in anti-poppy operation in the area in 1987. The GAIE was initially planned to have 600 factories. Predominant industries are Textile, Chemicals, Steel, and PVCs and plastic industries.

The estate has spacious roads, drainage and water supply system, communication system, power and gas facilities and standard schooling and medical facilities at Tarbela, lying close to it, and Peshawar.

In 1989, the government of prime minister late Benazir Bhutto announced several incentives for the industries in the province and the GAIE.

The incentives for the province-wide industries included an income tax holiday for 8 years, exemption from sales tax for 5 years and exemption from custom duty on imported machinery. For GAIE additional incentives were announced that included duty free import of raw materials, 50 per cent concession in power tariff and provision of loans at 3 per cent mark up.

In May 1991, the Nawaz Sharif government withdrew these incentives given to the GAIE under pressure from Punjab industrialists and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the US because such incentives had not been given to other industrial estates.

Since the withdrawal of incentives, the shifting of the machinery from the GAIE was banned but it continued stealthily. However in May 2012, the industrialists and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government have agreed to lift ban. This is feared to cause the departure of more industries from the estate.

In 2003 the estate was converted to an Export Processing Zone by Syed Iftikhar Hussain Shah, the then provincial governor. But the plan seems to have been shelved. According to Shinwari, the concerned authority had expressed reservations over the decision and the file is still lying there.

In 2007, representatives of the US government visited the GAIE and vowed to revive some industries under the Reconstruction Opportunity Zone programme, under which goods from the Gadoon estate were to be exported to the US duty-free. But the idea could not materialise because the US congress rejected the bill.

Experts suggest that incentives and industrialisation go hand in hand. Both are interlinked. For example, when the package for GAIE was announced, over 200 industries were established within no time there. But when they were withdrawn, the pace of industrialisation slowed down, rather reverted.

What needs to be done?

According to Mumtazuddin, the estate can be revived as and when the government creates a conducive environment for investment by improving security situation and announcing a comprehensive package for the investors. “First of all, the government should announce that whosoever intends to establish industries will not be asked about his sources of income. Then it should give soft loans without requiring collateral and with prolonged grace period. Interest on industrial loans should in no way exceed 12-15 per cent. Subsidies on loans, power/gas tariff, industrial plots and sales and income taxes and rebate in custom and excise duty on import of raw material and machinery should be announced,” he adds.

“Sales and income tax rebate for five years be announced for the GAIE. Gas and power loadshedding be minimised if not eliminated altogether. Any possible reduction in gas and power tariff will be welcome,” Shah pleads.

“To give it level playing field, the estate deserves a permanent reduction of 25 per cent in sales/income tax and power/gas tariff. This will not only revive the sick industries but also encourage fresh investment. This rebate in taxes, as suggested by the federal board of revenue, will revive industries which will lead to paying more taxes and clearance of stuck up bank loans on their part,” Shinwari adds.

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Person with disabilitys: the way forward

The way forward
Persons with disabilities need a lot more attention than what they get
By Tahir Ali

http://jang.com.pk/thenews/dec2012-weekly/nos-09-12-2012/pol1.htm#6

International Day of Persons with Disabilities was observed on December 3, 2012. The day has been celebrated by the United Nations since 1992. The theme of this year is “Removing barriers to create an inclusive and accessible society for all”.

Hasan Shah, 35, from Katlang Mardan, was born healthy but polio attack paralysed one of his legs in his childhood. Coming from a poor family, he couldn’t get treatment or education. He is still jobless.

Despite consistent efforts, he has failed to get any support from any poverty alleviation or disability rehabilitation programme, both public and private. A friend has bought him a calf. He is rearing it in the hope that it would grow into a cow and eventually earn him money after a few years.

There are an estimated one billion PWDs worldwide. Unfortunately, the number is increasing rapidly due to terrorist attacks, road accidents, diseases and natural disasters.

The 1998 census recorded a prevalence rate of 2.49 per cent for PWDs. It comes to around 4.5mn PWDs out of the estimated 180mn population of the country at present.

The World Health Organization, however, estimates that 10 percent of global population comprise PWDs. Ihsanullah Daudzai, General Secretary of the Special Persons Development Association (SPDA) said the number of PWDs is increasing by the day.

“No reliable survey has so far been made. So there is no authentic data on disability in the country. The government thinks PWDs form around 2.5 per cent of the country’s population. But we think disability prevalence is around 15 per cent in the country,” he says.

Of the total PWDs in Pakistan, the physically disabled comprise 40 percent, visually impaired 20 percent, hearing impaired 10 percent, mentally disabled 20 percent and around 10 percent are overlapping ones.

“The national data base and registration authority is issuing special computerised identity cards to the PWDs and can thus be instrumental in collecting an authentic data but that will take time,” Daudzai says.

The CRPD and its Optional Protocol was adopted by the United Nations on December 13, 2006, and was opened for signature on March 30, 2007.

As of late, there have been 154 signatories to the convention, 90 signatories to the Optional Protocol, 126 ratifications and accessions to the Convention and 76 ratifications and accessions of the Protocol.

Pakistan signed the convention on September 25, 2008 and ratified it on November 5, 2011. However, it has not yet signed or ratified the protocol like India and China, etc. Israel and the US, etc, have only signed the convention in 2007 but neither ratified it nor signed and ratified the protocol as yet.

Disabled Persons’ (Employment and Rehabilitation) Ordinance 1981 calls on the government of Pakistan to work for prevention of disabilities, protection of rights of PWDs and provision of medical care, education, training, employment, and rehabilitation to them.

The ordinance is implemented through the ‘National Council for the Rehabilitation of Disabled Persons’ in collaboration with its provincial counterparts. But critics say the councils have remained dormant for years and failed to lead from the front.

The government has also announced that PWDs can receive Rs1000/month while those with severe disabilities can get Rs2000 to avail personal attendant services. They can have free wheelchair, hearing-aid or white cane etc. If a family has two or more than two PWDs, it will be declared a Special Respected Family. The Pakistan Baitulmal (PBM) has introduced a policy of providing Rs. 25000/- to such families.

“All public sector departments and private establishments are bound to reserve 2 per cent quota of their employees for the PWDs. But it is only partially implemented. The quota is also much less than needed. The SPDA demands that a minimum of 5 per cent job quota be reserved for the PWDs,” he adds.

“Three steps are must for the financial empowerment of the PWDs. One, their treatment and rehabilitation should be the first priority. Two, all the PWDs, especially the female ones, should be provided free and market oriented technical and professional education at their doorsteps. Three, the infrastructure of the special education centres should be used for the purpose after normal schooling hours. Four, the centres should have hostels in them to accommodate the PWDs from far flung areas,” he pleaded.

The need for zero tolerance against discrimination on the basis of disability, building the capacity of PWDs and making them an integral part of national programmes both in policy development and programme implementation cannot be exaggerated.

Economic empowerment of PWDs is essential for an inclusive society for them. Local and multinational companies and philanthropists should come forward for the purpose.

All MDGs affect the lives of PWDs. But there are no references to PWDs either in the MDGs themselves or in the accompanying body of guidelines, policies and programmes. Also, PWDs are out of the ongoing revisions of the MDGs. However, the MDGs can hardly be achieved if PWDs are not included in its policies, programmes, monitoring and evaluation. An authentic census of PWDs is also long overdue.

The Rio +20 Outcome Document, “The future we want” urges States to enhance the welfare of PWDs; promote inclusive housing and social services and a safe and healthy living environment for all, particularly, PWDs and to ensure equal access to education for PWDs.

There is a need for a barrier-free city planning in future. The cities and towns must conform to the Universal Design for Independent Living to make it suitable for all citizens, including elders, the youth and disabled.

Sport is a global tool for inclusion, tolerance and diversity. Though Paralympics are held every two years, PWDs need to be provided opportunities of sports and tourism at local level.

The political parties should also make their manifestoes more relevant and inclusive for PWDs.

Committed and qualified teachers are a prerequisite for proper education and training of special children. Therefore due attention should be paid to the training of teachers.

In 2007, China had employed 4.3mn PWDs. Pakistan should itself take the lead to train and offer gainful employment to such persons. IBM is a role model for employment to PWDs. It has employed many PWDs who are doing fine research and production work.

The worker says at least one percent seats of parliament and provincial assemblies should be allocated for PWDs.

………….

The original text of the article as it was sent to The News on November 30, before the international day on disability was observed.

Disability in Pakistan, the world and

The way forward

By Tahir Ali

International Day of Persons with Disabilities will be observed tomorrow (3rd December 2012). The day has been celebrated by the United Nations since 1992.

The theme of this year is “Removing barriers to create an inclusive and accessible society for all”.

Hasan Shah, 35, from Katlang Mardan, was born healthy but polio attack in his childhood paralysed his one leg. Coming from a poor family, he couldn’t get treatment or education. He is still jobless. Despite his consistent efforts, he has failed to get any support from any poverty alleviation or disability rehabilitation programme, both public and private. A friend has bought him a calf. He is rearing it in the hope that it would grow into a cow and eventually earn him money after a few years.

There are an estimated one billion PWDs worldwide. Unfortunately the number is increasing rapidly for wars, terrorist attacks, road accidents, diseases and natural disasters.

There is still no reliable data on disability in Pakistan. However the 1998 census recorded a prevalence rate of 2.49 per cent for PWDs. It comes to around 4.5mn PWDs out of the estimated 180mn population of the country at present.

The World Health Organization however estimates that 10 per cent of global population comprise PWDs. Those working on disability say PWDs form 12-15 per cent of Pakistan’s population.

Ihsanullah Daudzai, the General Secretary of the Special Persons Development Association (SPDA) said the number of PWDs is increasing by the day.

“No reliable survey has so far been made. So there is no authentic data on disability in the country. The government thinks PWDs forms around 2.5 per cent of the country’s population. But we think disability prevalence is around 15 per cent in the country,” he says.

This comes to around 27mn PWDs. Another NGO worker, who wished anonymity, said over 12 percent of Pakistan’s population or 21mn persons have disability. Over 90 per cent of them are jobless and poverty stricken.

Of the total PWDs in Pakistan, the physically disabled comprise 40 per cent, visually impaired 20 percent, hearing impaired 10 per cent, mentally disabled 20 per cent and around 10 per cent are overlapping ones.

“The national data base and registration authority is issuing special computerised identity cards to the PWDs and can thus be instrumental in collecting an authentic data but that will take time,” Daudzai says.

The CRPD and its Optional Protocol was adopted by the United Nations on 13th December 2006, and was opened for signature on 30 March 2007.

As of late, there have been 154 signatories to the convention, 90 signatories to the Optional Protocol, 126 ratifications and accessions to the Convention and 76 ratifications and accessions of the Protocol.

Pakistan has signed the convention on 25 September 2008 and ratified it on November 5, 2011. However it has not yet signed or ratified the protocol like India and China etc. Israel and the US etc have only signed the convention in 2007 but neither ratified it nor signed and ratified the protocol as yet.

“Disabled Persons’ (Employment and Rehabilitation) Ordinance 1981 calls on the government of Pakistan to work for prevention of disabilities, protection of rights of PWDs and provision of medical care, education, training, employment, and rehabilitation to them.

The ordinance is implemented through the ‘National Council for the Rehabilitation of Disabled Persons’ in collaboration with its provincial counterparts. But critics say the councils have remained dormant for years and failed to lead from the front.

Pakistan has since then taken a number of steps to facilitate PWDs. 50% concession in Air, Train and Road fare for PWDs has been announced. Tuition, hostel and other expenditures for the PWDs have also been waived off at universities’ level.

The government has also announced that PWDs can receive Rs1000/month while those with severe disabilities can get Rs2000 to avail personal attendant services. They can have free wheelchair, hearing-aid or white cane etc. If a family has two or more than two PWDs, it will be declared a Special Respected Family. The Pakistan Baitulmal (PBM) has introduced a policy of providing Rs. 25000/- to such families.

Besides the Director General of Special Education and Social Welfare, Pakistan Baitulmal, Benazir Income Support Programme and other public sector entities, the Layton Rehmatullah Benevolent Trust, Milestone Society for the Special Persons, Society For Disabled Women Pakistan,, Handicap International and many other foreign and local NGOs work for the for rehabilitation and empowerment of PWDs in the country.

The way forward

“All public sector departments and private establishments are bound to reserve 2 per cent quota of their employees for the PWDs. But it is only partially implemented. The quota is also much less than needed. The SPDA demands that a minimum of 5 per cent job quota be reserved for the PWDs,” he adds.

“Three steps are must for the financial empowerment of the PWDs. One, their treatment and rehabilitation should be the first priority. Two, all the PWDs, especially the female ones, should be provided free and market oriented technical and professional education at their doorsteps. Three, the infrastructure of the special education centres should be used for the purpose after normal schooling hours. Four, the centres should have hostels in them to accommodate the PWDs from far flung areas,” he pleaded.

The need for zero tolerance against discrimination on the basis of disability, building the capacity of PWDs and making them an integral part of national programmes both in policy development and programme implementation cannot be exaggerated.

The government should provide them access to education, health services, social and legal assistance, cultural activities, vocational and life-skills training.

Mainstreaming disability requires taking specific measures at all levels, strengthening the regional knowledge/policy frameworks and warrants addressing the needs of PWDs within the context of the Millennium Development Goals.

Economic empowerment of PWDs is essential for an inclusive society for them. Local and multinational companies and philanthropists should come forward for the purpose.

All MDGs affect the lives of PWDs. But there are however no references to PWDs either in the MDGs themselves or in the accompanying body of guidelines, policies and programmes. Also, PWDs are out of the ongoing revisions of the MDGs.

However, the MDGs can hardly be achieved if PWDs are not included in its policies, programmes, monitoring and evaluation.

An authentic census of PWDs is also long overdue. General Assembly resolution 64/131 also called on governments to build a knowledge data-base on PWDs, which could be used to facilitate disability-sensitive development policy planning, monitoring, evaluation and implementation.

PWDs should not be considered as “objects” of charity, treatment and social protection. They rather should be viewed as “subjects” with rights, who are worth of those rights and can shape their lives as per their own accord.

The Rio +20 Outcome Document, “The future we want” urges States to enhance the welfare of PWDs; promote inclusive housing and social services and a safe and healthy living environment for all, particularly, PWDs and to ensure equal access to education for PWDs.

There is a need for a barrier-free city planning in future. The cities and towns must conform to the Universal Design for Independent Living to make it suitable for all citizens, including elders, the youth and disabled.

Sport is a global tool for inclusion, tolerance and diversity. Though Paralympics are held every two years, PWDs need to be provided opportunities of sports and tourism at local level.

The political parties should also make their manifestoes more relevant and inclusive for PWDs.

Committed and qualified teachers are a prerequisite for proper education and training of special children. Therefore due attention should be paid to the training of teachers.

In 2007, China had employed 4.3mn PWDs. Pakistan should itself take the lead to train and offer gainful employment to such persons. IBM is a role model for employment to PWDs. It has employed many PWDs who are doing fine research and production work.

The worker said says at least one per cent seats of parliament and provincial assemblies should be allocated for PWDs.

Understanding disability and PWDs under risk

By Tahir Ali

What is disability?

There is no agreed upon definition of the term disability. Generally speaking, the PWDs can be classified into severe physically disabled (wheelchair bound), mild physically disabled (walking with crutches, walker. stick), visually impaired (blind/partially blind), speaking impaired (dumb), hearing impaired (deaf) and mentally impaired.

However, According to the National Policy on the issue of disability” 2002, “A person with disabilities means who, on account of injury, disease, or congenital deformity, is handicapped in undertaking any gainful profession or employment, and includes persons who are visually/hearing impaired, and/or physically and mentally disabled.”

Disability is not for impairment alone, but should be seen as the result of interaction between a person and his or her environment.

The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) states that they “include those who have long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments which, in interaction with various barriers, may hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others.”

PWDs under risk

Persons with disabilities (PWDs) face several prejudices. The biggest problem they face is the hostile social environment so that if a person limps he is called langra. And if he has lost an eye, he is summoned as kana.

PWDs are commonly the poorest of the poor in society, experiencing social exclusion and discrimination at all levels.

Also, the PWDs have restricted access to physical environment, to microfinance institutions, to information and communications technology resulting from legislation, policy or societal attitudes or discrimination in areas such as education, employment and transportation.

The wheelchair is one of the widely used assistive devices. Out of around 70mn in need of wheelchairs worldwide, only 5-15 per cent PWDs have access to it. Little access to travel and tourism or sports facilities is another problem.

All PWDs, and especially women and children, are at much higher risk of violence, neglect, poverty and exploitation. Factors such as stigma, discrimination, and ignorance about disability, indifference of the government, their poverty and the lack of social support for them and their supporters etc make them vulnerable to the above and other dangers.

Every minute over 30 women, the World Bank reports, are seriously injured or disabled during labour and these 15-50mn women mostly go unnoticed. The global literacy rate is as low as one per cent for women with disabilities, according to a UNDP study.

The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) recognizes that women and girls with disabilities are often at greater risk, both within and outside the home, of violence, injury or abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment or exploitation. To address this concern, the CRPD has also taken a two track approach to promoting gender equality and the empowerment of women with disabilities.

The World Programme of Action concerning Disabled Persons also states that women face significantly more difficulties – in both public and private spheres – in attaining access to adequate housing, health, education, vocational training and employment. They also experience inequality in hiring, promotion rates and pay for equal work, access to training and retraining, credit and other productive resources, and rarely participate in economic decision-making.

The WHO estimates that over 50mn get disabled in road accidents worldwide each year.

The needs of PWDs are hardly considered while mapping buildings, roads, pathways, parks and educational institutions etc.

2012 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 8,900 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 15 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

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