LAKKI MARWAT: Pakistan Alliance for Inclusive Elections (PAIE) has expressed a dire need to make Pakistan’s electoral processes more inclusive and accessible for persons with disabilities. This was shared on the occasion of International Day of Persons with Disabilities celebrated at Centre for peace and Development Initiatives (CPDI).
In a statement issued by CPDI on Wednesday the senior program officer Fatmia Shah said that the United Nations General Assembly resolution 47/3 proclaimed annual observance of the International Day of Disabled Persons in 1992. “It aims to promote the rights and well-being of persons with disabilities in all spheres of society and to increase awareness about situation of persons with disabilities in every aspect of life”, she said, adding that with Pakistan heading close to general elections it is high time to focus on all facets of our electoral processes.
She said, “we need to make our electoral processes inclusive for all citizens, especially for persons with disabilities”. The CPDI senior program officer said that Pakistan is a signatory and has also ratified the United Nation Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD). She said that accessible polling stations for PWDs were a crucial first step to bring persons with disabilities towards mainstream electoral processes. While referring to PAIE’s recent accessibility audit of polling stations in NA-4 she said that 95% of the sampled polling stations were not completely accessible for PWD.
“This situation calls for immediate corrective measures on part of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) as electoral events conceived and held in exclusion of a segment of society are not in agreement with true spirit of electoral democracy”, she remarked. The CPDI SPO revealed that government made provision of postal ballot for the PWDs in section 93 of the recently passed Election Act 2017 that allows persons with disability to take part in Elections, adding that under section 48 of the act the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) is required to take special measures for registration of disabled persons in the electoral rolls.
She said that the special measures were encouraging but we should never forget the importance and impact of being part of the mainstream procedure. “The exposure that one receives by passing through the procedure on the Election Day in that environment has its own importance in democratic training of the citizens, she emphasized. She said that there was great need to bring PWDs into the mainstream rather than excluding them.
“We need to make our procedures and systems inclusive and accessible for all; this also coincides with the theme of this year’s International Day of Person with Disabilities; that is “Transformation towards sustainable and resilient society for all”. “CPDI from the platform of PAIE demands this transformation for Pakistan’s electoral procedures to make it accessible for all”, she added.