The Scripture says that the measure of each human soul is equal in the scales of Divinity. That He created each of us from His own breath, and entrusted our spirit with the fullest promise of His redemption. A promise that does not distinguish between rich or poor, black or white, man or woman, healthy or “special.” That the sajda of the angels was not restricted to only a fraction of humanity; with the fierce belief that our collective virtues and passions can compensate for our individual infirmities.

In absolute disregard of this ethos, on Wednesday, this past week, the Punjab Police, working under the orders of the PML-N government, mercilessly thrashed a small group of blind individuals, who had gathered outside the Lahore Press Club to peacefully demand a larger quota in the job market. As fate would have it, the rightful demonstration of these ‘special’ individuals, which would otherwise have been completely ignored by our State functionaries, had become a massive inconvenience, since it stood in the way of President Mamnoon Hussain’s protocol route. The Punjab Police (which, at least these days, is simply another name for PML-N’s private guards) did what any loyal servant would do for its master: they beat up the blind protesting individuals, shoved them in police vans, and humiliated their cause as well as their person. In the process, the Punjab Police once again succeeded in establishing the irrefutable point that we live in a country where the State machinery owes fidelity to the ruling party alone, as opposed to the empire of our Fundamental Rights, or command of our law.

Let us clarify the legal paradigm, governing the issue, first. The demand of ‘special’ individuals to be afforded a larger fraction of our nation’s opportunities is part of their constitutional Right to Life (Article 9), Dignity (Article 14), and Equality (Article 25). In fact, this demand forms an integral step in the fulfilment of the constitutional Principle of Policy, which requires the State to promote social justice and economic wellbeing, irrespective of any “infirmity” or “sickness” (Articles 37 & 38). Pursuant to these constitutional ideals, the Province of Punjab is governed under the Disabled Persons (Employment and Rehabilitation) Ordinance, 1981 (the “DPO”). This legislative instrument constitutes a “Provincial Council” (under Section 5) with representatives from different administrative branched of the government. Working in the stewardship of this Provincial Council, it is the responsibility of the State to ensure that “not less than two percent of the total number of persons employed by an establishment at any time shall be disabled persons” (under Section 10 of DPO).

While on the point, it is pertinent to mention that calling someone a “disabled” person, or pointing out that someone has a “disability”, necessarily undermines the respect such person enjoys in our society. By extension, it colors the perception of such individual in our constitutional paradigm, and erodes the faith that the society places in such person’s ability, potential and passion to contribute as a worthwhile and equal member of our national dispensation. As such, “disability” (which offends the Right to Dignity) must be replaced in our diction with the phrase “special condition”, as a symbol of our faith in the promise of each human soul being ashraf-ul-makhlookaat.

Back to the issue at hand, in the aftermath of Police’s State brutality, against these special individuals, no meaningful action has been taken by the government functionaries. Merely as a token gesture, the concerned SHO has been suspended, while no redressal has been made of the grievances of these special individuals.

This apathy, on part of the State as well as the people of Pakistan, is only the tip of a larger national malaise.

Perhaps we all need to be reminded of the faith that our religion, Constitution, and the law, places in the purpose and virtue of every human breathe. Perhaps we need to revisit the promise of our Fundamental Right in protection every moment of life, for each individual. It is time that, on the behalf of all special individual in Pakistan, we reinvent our collective faith that human soul is not devoid of purpose. That the hand of the Creator does not move without intent. And that this intent, this purpose, this faith in the act of living, does not discriminate between those who can stand upright and those who can only limp; between those who can see and those who can only imagine; between those who can reason and those who can only dream. That the Right to Life extends the immutable promise of leading a purposeful existence to every individual, irrespective of any “special condition” that such individual may suffer from. And along with it, the same Right to Life places a sacred obligation on each one of us, as conscientious citizens of our constitutional democracy, to ensure that instead of allowing the special individuals to suffer their solitary existence, together we will cure every “disability”, with a fierce belief that only in our collective success lies our individual salvations.

The right to life and dignity, as enshrined in our Constitution, must be positively enforced by our State institutions for the protection and wellbeing of special individuals. The endeavor of our law – which is meant to capture the best of our spirit – must break through the arbitrary barrier of biological and social constructions, in order to ensure that the empire of happiness is extended to even those who have been dealt an unfortunate hand by destiny. We must stand for the ideal that, while fate can sometimes be unkind, we shall ensure that the embrace of our humanity puts together the scattered pieces of the lives that suffer from brokenness of physical and intellectual ailments. That the endeavor of our law, the command of our State, and the compassion of our society must promise all of humankind that, while the arc of history might be long, at the end it bends toward justice. That while the struggle of our soul might be painful, at the end it leads to deliverance.

Our State and our society must wake up from a collective and nefarious delusion that human achievement and utility is the empire of fully functional, intellectual and physical faculties. While remembering Beethoven (who was blind), Stephen Hawking (who suffered from Motor Neuron disease), and Franklin Delano Roosevelt (who suffered from Polio), we must not forget a lesson that history has taught over and over again: that even a small fraction of human potential, when ignited with passion of the heart, and compassion of the soul, can alter the destiny of time.

This promise, in the inherent faith in the value of a human life, is within the contemplation of our Constitution, even if, for now, it escapes the contemplation of our society. Let us – all of us – put aside our entrenched biases, to work towards redeeming this pledge.

The writer is a lawyer based in Lahore. He has a Masters in Constitutional Law from Harvard Law School. He can be contacted at saad@post.harvard.edu. Follow him on Twitter