Enabling environment.

IN 1955, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) framed the Vocational Rehabilitation (Disabled) Recommendations to promote the full participation of persons with disabilities in social life and their development, as well as the recognition of the right to be treated equally. Yet, before 1981, there was hardly any organisation in Pakistan that sought to raise concern for the welfare of persons with disabilities or provided them with education and employment opportunities.

It was under the dictatorship of Gen Ziaul Haq that the Disabled Persons (Employment and Rehabilitation) Ordinance was promulgated in 1981. It was one of the prominent labour welfare laws of Pakistan, enforced with the objective of ensuring the employment, rehabilitation, and welfare of persons with disabilities. The Ordinance was made applicable to all industrial and commercial establishments employing not less than one hundred employees.

Persons who were handicapped from undeArtaking any gainful profession or employment on account of injury, disease or congenital deformity were covered under the Ordinance. It specifically included persons who were blind, deaf, physically impaired or intellectually disabled. It ordained that the number of persons with disabilities given employment by an establishment should not be less than one per cent of its total employee strength.

A Rehabilitation of Disabled Persons Fund was also constituted under the Ordinance wherein any establishment which did not employ differently-abled persons had to pay, each month, the amount of salary it would have otherwise paid to such persons.

Organisations must make more effort to employ disabled persons.

Gen Zia had particular concern and sympathy for persons with disabilities, which motivated him to come up with the law. One of his daughters, Zain Zia, was a special needs child. He had directed his government to frame the law not only for the welfare of all persons with special needs but also to create awareness in society about their right to be treated equally.

The promulgation of the OrdiAnance in Pakistan coincided with the declaration of the year 1981 by the UN General AsseAmbly as the International Year of Disabled Persons. The UN undertook to launch a comprehensive World Programme of Action concerning Disabled Persons, which would provide effective measures at the international and national levels for the realisation of the goals of 'full participation of disabled persons in social life and...

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