Thirty-two-year-old Shahid Bacha, a fearless political worker of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and an active voice for people with disabilities in Peshawar, is now hopeless from the response of the party. He says the “strong sharks” inside the party are not allowing him to work. Shahid Bacha a fearless disabled activist joined PPP in 2004 when the oppression of former president Pervez Musharaf was at its peak. At that time, he worked for the stability of the party when most of the leadership was out of country or was facing imprisonment. However, as proof has it, Bacha spoke openly against the Musharaf regime. “I was 18 years old when I lost my left hand in an accident but I never lost my confidence and joining PPP in the early 2000s gave me a new courage to speak and work for the disabled people from the platform of the party. Every political party has its wings for minorities, youth and women but no party has a wing for people with disabilities and no one mentions their aims for the thousands of people with disability because they always think that they are the spare people of the society,” Bacha said, while talking exclusively to Daily Times. According to the bureau of statistics, persons with disabilities constitute just 0.48 percent of the country’s total population. Persons with disabilities are mentioned for the first time in population census by the order of the Supreme Court of Pakistan. But various non-governmental organisations show these numbers as being more. Bacha, while commenting on the state’s policies for special persons, said that those sitting in the state institutions are not aware of the pain a special person feels. “Developed countries have even made policies for animals but here, no one is working for a population of millions,” he said. According to the Special Citizens Bill 2015, the government will bound all places, hotels, hospitals, offices and other departments bound to arrange facilities for the special persons but according to Bacha, these orders are only limited to the documents and no one took any practical step. “With the exception of former president Asif Ali Zardari’s promise to give special status to people with disabilities in the national identity cards, which was fulfilled, nothing else has been done by anyone else in power,” he said. “I have more than 1,000 members of special persons working for the manifesto of the party inside my wing but no one values our voice to register our suggestions inside the party. As elections are nearing, our demand from the party is to include special persons in their fresh manifesto,” Bacha said. In January, the National Assembly referred rights of persons with disability bill, 2017 to the standing committee on cabinet secretariat for further review. The committee will refer the bill to the NA while the assembly will refer it to the upper house for further review. In July 2011, Pakistan became the 101st country to ratify the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, but was still struggling in framing legislation to ensure rights of people with disabilities. The same comment was narrated by Bacha that every year on December 3, Special Persons Day is observed across the globe, and “our institution gets billions in funds for disabled people but these funds are never received by the disabled”. “My appeal to the chairman and co-chairman of PPP is to hear our frail voices, register our wing inside the party and meet with special persons. We are the real jiyalas because we visit the party secretariat in Islamabad but no one values us because the party has been hijacked by the sharks. Those silent during Musharraf’s regime and were getting preventives from other places are now labelling themselves as the real workers of the party but the senior leadership knows who are the real ones,” he said. Published in Daily Times, April 16th 2018.