International White Cane Day is observed the world over and also in Pakistan on 15 October every year to highlight the problems, needs, and requirements of disabled persons, particularly those with visibility disability. The day also urges the society at large, philanthropists, and the federal and provincial governments, to consider what efforts must be taken in order to help, assist, and rehabilitate disabled individuals so they can live their lives to the maximum extent possible. Even a commoner on the street can help a person carrying white cane to move around and cross the road. But the question is; how many of us do that? 

People with visibility disability, to the best of my memory, had been protesting for their rights for a few years. Their demands; improved share in the government jobs so that they and their dependents can lead life in a reasonable manner. They had even protested outside the Provincial Assembly. The government functionaries had faced difficulties in convincing them that the Punjab Government is giving due consideration to their problems and demands and that serious efforts are being made to redress their grievances. 

Now that another International White Cane Day was observed last week, it was good to note that the Punjab Government has not only addressed the problems of the disabled persons including those with visibility problem but is also ensuring the implementation of the appreciable decisions sofar taken both in the public and private sectors. 

As mentioned earlier, one major demand of the blind or semi-blind persons was an increase in the government jobs quota. Accepting their demand after due consideration, their quota was increased from two percent to three percent; and many other steps have also been taken to accommodate the disabled persons in different fields. Furthermore, in order to facilitate the disabled persons entry into government service, the upper age limit was also relaxed by as much as ten years which has proven beneficial. 

According to some facts and figures available from official quarters, it is quite commendable that as many as 3950 persons with disabilities have already been recruited in government departments at provincial and district levels. They include 2920 physically disabled persons, 348 deaf and dumb, and 682 visually impaired persons. Additionally, 6353 persons with disabilities have been adjusted in different private establishments against the quota of 3 percent. 

These figures may not be appear impressive to many, but the fact that the provincial government through its initiatives in the private sector establishments are continuing to do more and more for the welfare of disabled individuals should be duly appreciated. 

All of us should also pledge to do all that we can, individually and collectively, for the welfare of people with disabilities, treating them as our unfortunate brothers and sisters. Even a few words of sympathy will alleviate their sufferings. 

DOST ALI, 

Lahore, October 14.