Many countries are issuing licenses to persons with hearing-impairment; why aren’t we, CM Sindh wondered. He directed Chief Secretary Sindh Mumtaz Shaikh to seek opinion from concerned branch and traffic police and then make necessary amendments in the law so that issuance of licenses to the persons with hearing-impairment could be streamlined. The chief minister, in a letter to the chief secretary, has said that the persons with hearing-impairment formed a sizeable number of Pakistani disabled population actively involved in life and livelihood playing an important role in the progress of Pakistan. Several provisions and statutes call for granting equal rights. Mr Shah said that Article 25 of the Constitution guarantees ‘Equality of Citizens’ before law entitling protection without discrimination on any basis while Article 18 guarantees the ‘Freedom of Trade, Business or Profession’. He added that following the spirit of the Supreme Law of Land, the newly promulgated ‘Sindh Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2018’ also calls for ‘Equality and Non-Discrimination of Persons with Disabilities’ (Section 3), ‘Ease of access and mobility’ (Section 6) and ‘Public facilities and services’ (Section 2 (v)). Furthermore, the chief minister added that the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD) provides for the right to ‘Equality and non-discrimination for all people with disabilities – including deaf people and demanding equal protection and benefit under law. The letter says that at present, the persons with hearing-impairment are disqualified for issuance of driving license by the Second Schedule of the Motor Vehicles Ordinance, 1965 (amended from time to time) as reproduced below: Section 7(5): Diseases and disabilities absolutely disqualifying a person for obtaining a license to drive a motor vehicle are Epilepsy, Lunacy, heart disease likely to produce sudden attack of giddiness or fainting; Inability to distinguish with each eye at a distance of twenty five yards in good daylight (with the aid of glasses, if worn), a series of seven letters and figures in white on a black ground of the same size and arrangement as those of the registration mark of a motor car; A degree of deafness, which prevents the applicant from hearing without hearing aids, the ordinary sound signals; Colour blindness or inability to distinguish the pigmentary colours, red and green; Night blindness. However, the chief minister said that throughout the world, countries in all major Continents issue driving license to the hearing-impaired persons. They include North America (United States of America, Canada, Mexico), South America (Brazil, Chile, Argentina etc.), European Union (all countries), Australia, Asia & Middle East (India, Japan, New Zealand, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Malaysia, Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Russia, Uzbekistan etc.), Africa (Kenya, South Africa, Nigeria etc. Mr Shah said that that the issuance of driving license to hearing-impaired persons would lead to myriad of socio-economic benefits: First, it would be an implementation of guarantees provided in the constitution, and of ordains of the relevant statute and the declaration in the UNCRPD regarding the equality of the hearing-impaired persons; which would in turn make them feel empowered and motivated. Secondly, the hearing-impaired persons would get the ease of access and mobility, as they would be able to move freely in their own vehicles without being a burden on anyone. Thirdly, the hearing-impaired persons would be able to make livelihood by getting employed in jobs, requiring driving skills such as drivers, transporters of goods, delivery persons, courier services etc. In view of the above facts, the chief minister has directed the chief secretary that necessary amendment in the Second Schedule of the Motor Vehicles Ordinance, 1965 may be made. On the directives of the chief minister, CM’s Special Assistant for `Programs Related to Differently Abled persons’ Syed Qasim Naveed has moved a summary for the chief minister. On the summary, the chief minister has directed chief secretary to discuss the matter with Driving License Branch experts and traffic police and then put up recommendations for the amendment in the law so that licenses could be issued to hearing-impaired persons. Published in Daily Times, January 9th 2019.