LAHORE - Like other parts of the globe, International Day of Persons with Disabilities was observed across the country on Tuesday to renew the pledge of making all-out efforts to ensure participation of disabled for inclusive‚ sustainable and equitable development.

The day is observed on December 3 every year since 1992 to promote an understanding of disability issues and mobilize support for the dignity, rights and well-being of persons with disabilities. It also seeks to increase awareness of gains to be derived from the integration of persons with disabilities in every aspect of political, social, economic and cultural life. Seminars, walks and workshops were arranged both at the government and private level to raise awareness about rights of disabled persons and responsibilities of the nation.

Red Crescent and Ghazali Education Trust arranged ceremonies at Governor’s House to mark the day. Punjab Governor Ch Muhammad Sarwar attended both the ceremonies. Special Education Department and Punjab Welfare Trust for Special Persons arranged a ceremony at Al-Hamra that was addressed by Punjab Chief Minister Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif.

Ch Muhammad Sarwar said that it was responsibility of the nation to encourage disabled persons for making them useful citizens. He said the disabled possessed enormous talent in different fields and there was need to provide them equal opportunities so that they could play due role in progress and development of the country. He said that the government was devising a comprehensive plan for the rehabilitation of special children. Later, Governor Punjab distributed food items, gifts and bouquets among special children.

Addressing a ceremony at Al-Hamra, Shahbaz Sharif said that government was taking solid steps for making special children useful citizens. Special Education Minister Asif Saeed Manais, Secretary Special Education, Managing Director Punjab Welfare Trust for Special Persons Dr Amjad Saqib, Justice (R) Aamir Raza Khan, former chief secretary Pervaiz Masood, senior officers, office-bearers of NGOs and a large number of special children were present on the occasion.

Shahbaz said that NGOs and philanthropists could also play an active role along with the government for education and training of special children so that they could get a dignified and respectable status in the society. He said that government would take further steps for the welfare and betterment of special children. He announced immediate implementation of the decision regarding 50 percent ad-hoc allowance for the employees of Special Education Department and an increase in the annual grant of Punjab Welfare Trust for Special Persons from Rs 40 million to Rs100 million.

He said he has been attending functions for special children for the last six years which has given him knowledge about their problems. He said that special persons should not be termed as disabled as they have more capacities than the normal persons and parents, teachers and NGOs can play a vital role in exploring their hidden talent.

The chief minister said he considers that special persons with God-gifted qualities are the builders of the society and can play an important role in national development and progress. He said that in the developed societies, special children study in the same institutions which are for the common children. He said that Punjab government will also take measures for enrolment of special children in normal schools so that this discrimination could be removed. He said that special persons are better than those elements which are indulging in hoarding and profiteering and are poisoning the society.