The Senate Functional Committee on Human Rights in its upcoming meeting will discuss the abolishing of two percent quota for disabled people amongst other amendments made in the Companies Act 2017. It is depressing that those who promised to make Pakistan an Islamic welfare state have altogether given up on one of the most vulnerable sections of our society; the differently-abled people.

The decision is harsh and inhumane, and it comes as a surprise that no one objected while the decision was being made. This stands to affect many who are the sole breadwinners for their families. It is no rocket science to understand that the removal of the quota is a violation of the disabled persons’ right to employment. The irony is this: the state that is supposed to protect the most vulnerable segments of the society has decided to not care for them.

In Pakistan, estimates of the number of persons living with disabilities vary between 3.3 million and 27 million, depending on the sources. Pakistan did make early attempts at including persons with disabilities in the 1980s with the introduction of education and employment policies. But they proved to be ineffective in involving persons with disabilities. Persons with disabilities still have difficulty exercising their civil and political rights, attending quality schools and most importantly, finding gainful employment.

It is known to all that disabled persons, particularly in Pakistan, where there is less sensitivity and awareness around the issue, face a great many hurdles in employment. Prejudice among such people is widespread in our society, and the accessibility issues complicate their life further. The quota system was an attempt to give them a level playing field in becoming useful members of the society. Abolishing the reserved quota means that the government is depriving them of the finding employment that is necessary to lead a full life that all people deserve.