LAHORE - The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Monday issued notices to the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulator Authority (Pemra) and the Punjab government on a petition seeking directions to settle the grievances of the visually-impaired persons currently protesting on The Mall.

Justice Jawad Hassan adjourned the hearing until Wednesday and directed the parties to appear before the court at the next date of hearing. The petitioner pleaded that the state has failed to ensure protection of fundamental rights to people.

The petition submits that differently-abled persons were running from pillar to post in the society to get their legal and constitutional rights protected but nobody was ready to listen to their woes. Such people have equal rights in Pakistan and may have even more rights than any other national, the petition says.

Their rights have been laid down in the Constitution of the country and could not be overlooked. “Although the Lahore High Court has given orders to give due rights, as per law, the same seemed to hold little value for the bureaucracy and the executive. The recent sit-in is proof that our leadership has no vision. In fact, our leaders are myopic and visually-challenged themselves,” the petitioner says.

There was no special treatment for differently abled-persons regarding travelling, he told the court. “The government does not include even a single penny for differently-abled persons. “The population of Pakistan is around 200 million and 17.5% persons are disabled. Employment opportunities were not being provided to them as nothing was allocated to this end in the budget,” he submits. He said, “Will there be allocated and prescribed seats near the entrance and exit for disabled persons? How much discount will the given or will their transit on the Orange line metro train be free of cost?”

About non-availability of facilities at railway stations, he said, “Pakistan Railway does not provide any special seats or exclusive bogeys nor is there any ease of access in these trains. They are given a 50% discount on the train ticket whereas people above 75 years of age travel for free.”

The petitioner submits that order may kindly be passed for settlement of the genuine grievances of the visually impaired persons. Meanwhile, the special persons continuing their protest on The Mall demand jobs as approximately 8,000 seats for the differently-abled persons are lying vacant in the public sector in Punjab province alone. They demand jobs as per three percent quota allocated for the disabled. They are of the view that the jobs meant for the disabled have been given to normal persons.