ISLAMABAD    President Asif Ali Zardri has called upon the government institutions, civil society philanthropists and every citizen to make concerted efforts for an active participation of special persons in the national life.

In a message on the occasion of International Day of Persons with Disabilities, the president assured the special people that the government was committed to taking special measures to meet their needs. He said the theme of this year ‘Removing barriers to create an inclusive and accessible society for all’ calls for greater efforts to integrate special people with special needs in the productive and mainstream and harness their potential in achieving national development goals. He said the societies should be structured in a way that they not only meet the needs of special people but also engage them in the task of national development by removing all visible and invisible barriers that continue to hinder their progress.

The president said: “The day is an occasion to pay tribute to those men and women of courage who despite their physical, mental or any other disability are fighting the battle of life with or without any support. It is also an occasion to reiterate our moral, social and religious obligation to continue working for creation of an enabling environment which takes into account the special needs of the special persons. On this day we need to pause and ponder over the problems of the special people and how to solve them. For a developing country like Pakistan, the primary aim must be to achieve the same standards that exist in other civilized nations for addressing the problems of special people.”

He underlined the need to revitalise efforts for providing equal opportunities to all, including persons with disabilities, both in the public and private sectors. “The problems of special people are compounded by policy, legislative measures and infrastructural support. The society must be sensitive to the special needs of special people and take concrete measure to meet those needs,” he asserted.

The president said as a measure of the government’s commitment to address the issues of special people, in July last year it ratified the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD). Under the umbrella of UN, the government of Pakistan is striving hard to provide quality services to this important segment of the society.

He expressed the confidence that the provincial governments upon whom the responsibility of special persons has devolved as a result of the 18th Amendment would also take appropriate measures to address the issues confronting the special people. He also urged the international community to help the developing countries in removing the myriad barriers in meeting the Millennium Development Goals with the active participation of special persons.