An article by Amir Murtaza published by the Asian Human Rights Commission

Amir Murtaza

International and national legislation have unanimously recognized that all children have several inherent rights and government as well as society has obligations to protect and promote those rights. However, it is highly unfortunate that protection and promotion of the rights of disabled children is an issue of concern in many parts of the world, and Pakistan is no exception.

Faisal Imtiaz, a special education teacher, informed that disabilities have been defined in many ways. In general, disabilities are characteristics of the body, mind, or senses that, to a greater or lesser extent, affect a person’s ability to engage independently in some or all aspects of day-to-day life.

Faiz Khan is a Karachi based physiotherapist, he informed that disability is merely a condition. He added that people with disabilities are just as healthy as other people who don’t have disabilities; however, he mentioned that for a variety of reasons, persons with disabilities can be at greater risk for illness. It is significant to mention that people with disabilities can do all sort of normal work and enjoy their lives.

Faisal Imtiaz referred research studies mentioned that more than six million children in Pakistan are deprived of education and learning support due to various forms of disability. Faisal Imtiaz further observed that denying disabled children’s right to education is certainly one of the greatest injustices against them.

Farhana Bibi is mother of a ten-year-old disabled child. She lives in Mahmoodabad, a squatter settlement in Karachi. Farhana Bibi found that disability brings extremely negative reaction from the community and due to such attitude his child, Nazir, didn’t get the chance to take admission in nearby government school. She added that school officials advised her to bring the child to special children school, without realizing the fact that a post-polio affected child don’t need to get admission and study in special children school. Such harsh attitude on disability is not only unfortunate but also indicates stark violations of education rights for disabled children in this country.

Samreen Hyat, a foreign qualified special education teacher, elaborated inclusive education and informed that all children should be educated together, regardless of ability. Children with disabilities have the right to receive schooling in mainstream schools along with the same-age students. And, further said that inclusive education recognizes that all children can learn and that teaching must cater to the needs of students to utilize their maximum abilities. She further observed that inclusive education needs promotion and patronage at all levels and added that they system will certainly solve major education problems of disabled children in Pakistan.

Syed Hassan Raza, a child rights activist, informed that the Constitution of Pakistan, UN Conventions and International bindings make the government responsible to fulfill Pakistani children’s right to get education; however, in practice half of the children did not get enrolment in formal education system while a large percentage of enrolled children are not able to complete their education. It is important to mention and various researches substantiate the assertion that among the unfortunate non-starters, girls and children with disabilities are disproportionately represented.

Article 23 of UN Convention on the Rights of the Child CRC) mentioned that, “States Parties recognize that a mentally or physically disabled child should enjoy a full and decent life, in conditions which ensure dignity, promote self-reliance and facilitate the child’s active participation in the community.” Furthermore, “ recognizing the special needs of a disabled child, assistance extended in accordance with paragraph 2 of the present article shall be provided free of charge, whenever possible, taking into account the financial resources of the parents or others caring for the child, and shall be designed to ensure that the disabled child has effective access to and receives education, training, health care services, rehabilitation services, preparation for employment and recreation opportunities in a manner conducive to the child’s achieving the fullest possible social integration and individual development, including his or her cultural and spiritual development.”

Hassan Shahaid, a financial expert, explained that due to other pressing priorities and lack of resources successive governments have failed to allocate appropriate amount for child development. He added that due to lack of vision, planning and implementation mechanism, the allocated amount has not been utilized properly and therefore no positive impact is seen on the lives of most vulnerable section of the society, including disabled children.

Basit Ghafoor, a fourteen-year-old disabled boy, observed that the reaction of common people, even those who are well literate, on disability is very strange. “They either give so much sympathy or just try to avoid you. I don’t understand why they don’t treat us as a normal human being”. Basit Ghafoor a fifth grade dropout said and added, “I tried my best to convince my teachers and fellow students that I am a normal person like them and they must treat me in the same way they treat other normal people.”

The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is the first comprehensive human rights treaty of the 21st century and Pakistan has ratified the said Convention on 5th July 2011. Article 7 of the Convention covers, “Children with Disabilities” and mentioned that, “States Parties shall take all necessary measures to ensure the full enjoyment by children with disabilities of all human rights and fundamental freedoms on an equal basis with other children. In all actions concerning children with disabilities, the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration. States Parties shall ensure that children with disabilities have the right to express their views freely on all matters affecting them, their views being given due weight in accordance with their age and maturity, on an equal basis with other children, and to be provided with disability and age-appropriate assistance to realize that right.”

Sana Rohail, a lecturer of sociology in a local university, observed that formal education is extremely important for disabled children because very few career opportunities are available for non-educated disabled people. She further added even in many families parents consider their disabled children as an economic liability and don’t pay much attention to their needs. Due to indifferent attitude of family and community members, the incidence of runaway children amount disabled children is quite high.

Muhammad Ali, President Roshni Helpline, agreed that due to lack of appropriate support mechanism disabled children have become much vulnerable to all sorts of violence and exploitation. He added that organized crime groups take the advantage of such situation and use these children as professional beggars. He informed that youth groups of Roshni Helpline have been spreading awareness, in different communities, about the rights of disabled children, for quite some time.

Waheed Siddiqui, a local journalist in an Urdu newspaper, said that Pakistan government should honor its obligations to protect each and every right of children with disabilities. He asserted that such children must be considered as normal and they should not be left behind, only because they have any disability. Waheed Siddiqui also opined that there is an utmost need to change people’s attitude towards disability and in this regard media and civil society organizations should design and initiate awareness raising campaigns.


The views shared in this article do not necessarily reflect those of the AHRC, and the AHRC takes no responsibility for them.

About the Author:
Amir Murtaza is researcher and can be reached at

Document ID :AHRC-ETC-038-2011
Countries : Pakistan
Date : 07-09-2011