Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Area is home to thousands of disable persons and its ratio is 15% in the terrorism hit tribal region as compare to 10% internationally.
However, the Assistant Director of Directorate of Social Welfare Fata, Abid-ur-Rehman told Tribal Post that no proper survey was carried out to find exact data of disable or special persons. “Some 14,000 disable persons are registered with the directorate in which 6,000 are provided with different kinds of help,” he said.
Most of the disable persons are the victims of decade long war on terrorism and militancy in Fata. President of Anjuman-e-Bahalee Mahzoran (association for the rehabilitation of disable persons) Bajaur, Hazrat Wali Shah told the Tribal Post, “There are about 7,500 disable persons. More than 1,600 persons became disable due to terrorism. So far, only 4,000 are registered.”
“In Bajaur Agency, I was going home along with my brother that both of us became target of IED blast. My brother was killed while I lost my leg,” Bakht Bibi told Tribal Post.
She carried the disability at very young age while she was orphan. “No one was ready to marry me and after years, I was married to an old person who was a grandfather to more than ten children,” she said.
“There is no such organization for disable persons in our area. So, I came and got an artificial leg at PIPOS (Pakistan Institute of Prosthetic and Orthotic Science), Peshawar,” added Bakht Bibi.
There are several reasons behind the increasing number of disabled persons in Fata. Due to lack of awareness and financial restraints, flippantly disable persons are unable to get timely treatment. Secondly, anti-polio campaign is not properly utilized due to Taliban’s militancy and IDPs crisis. Thirdly, several local people became disable during the decade long war on terrorism in the region.
Jalil Mehsud is another disable person who belongs to South Waziristan. He was also targeted by and IED blast in his hometown in Mehsud area. He said that there are dozens of more disable persons in South Waziristan.
South Waziristan Agency’s political administration officials told the Tribal Post on condition of anonymity “Mehsud IDPs are returning their homes but there is no arrangement for clearing their area form IEDs. Since December 2009, about fifty persons have got disabled in IED blasts in Mehsud areas.”
“In Khyber Agency, there are about 7,000 disable persons. Only 3,400 are registered with the Fata’s Directorate of Social Welfare,” said Gul Ayaz Afridi who is a Press Secretary of Niaz Disable Organization, Jamrud.
Khyber Agency’s Barra Tehsil is one of the most war affected tribal areas and its inhabitants especially disable persons are facing many hardships. “Two months back, I submitted a written application for wheelchair to Fata Bait-ul-Mal but I was refused on pretention of lack of funds,” said Ayaz Khan.
“In Bara Tehsil, earlier 80% disable persons were able to earn livelihood and now majority of them are without work due to law and order situations,” said Ayaz khan.
Kurram Agency is also having a large number of 2,500 disable persons. Tanzeem-e-Mazooran (Organization of Disable Persons) Kurram Agency has worked on self-initiative in the Agency. Its president Anwar Shah told Tribal Post that the actual number of those special persons is higher but there is no proper mechanism for the purpose.
In 2005, Directorate of Social Welfare, Fata started work in under Federal government and after 18th amendment, the department was established in Fata Secretariat in 2011. It was assigned with task of providing disable persons with help and basic needs in Fata.
“Except South Waziristan and six frontier regions, there are welfare officers at each Agency responsible for taking care of disable persons. We provide every disable person with a certificate for taking benefits of disability given by the government,’’ Abid-ur-Rehman told the Tribal Post.
“Only 0.15 % is allocated for social welfare and later on slightly increased to 0.28% which is too little to start any welfare project for disables persons. There were proposed different welfare projects in Annual Development Plan (ADP), but not included in the budget,” said Abid-ur-Rehman.
Abid-ur-Rehman claimed that there is a plan of establishing skill centers and allotting 2% quota in jobs for disable persons in Fata.
However, Gul Aksar who is a social worker and leader of disable persons said that government is neglecting disable persons. Adding that as per 1973 Constitution, 2% Quota is reserved for disable persons, but nothing is done in practice. Moreover, there is no quota for them in Benazir Income Support Program, Wazir-e-Azam Sehat Program, Insaf Sehat Program and such other program.
Managing Director Pakistan Institute of Prosthetic and Orthotic Sciences (PIPOS), Peshawar Dr. Umar Ayub told Tribal Post that due to war on terrorism, the number of disable persons is increased in Fata and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. More than 1,200 disable persons of the tribal areas are waiting for their turn who have registered themselves for artificial organs. PIPOS is unable to facilitate all of them due to lack of resources, adding that we have demanded Rs.25 Crores from the Provincial government because all tribal disable patients come here, so there is no advantage of allocating government and international funds to direct in tribal areas of Pakistan.
Gul Askar said that they do registration of disable persons without any help from government side, and complete signed form is submitted with the Social welfare department, adding that there are many hurdles in getting a certificate, as it requires ten different signatures which is a difficult task. We request to make it more easy process.
Those organizations working for welfare of disable persons claimed that there are sixty to seventy five thousands disable persons in Fata, but for them there is no availability of any institution working for education, skill of disable persons.
Many disable persons are highly educated, but neglected by government, and now they treated as a burden not only for their families but also for whole society.
Fata disable person’s needs attention of government of Pakistan. There is a need to initiate comprehensive welfare programs for disable persons of Fata.