President Dr Arif Alvi on Tuesday said disabled persons in society deserved access to education and employment as their “equitable right, and not as charity”. “The state is responsible to transform the society in a way that it accepts and mainstreams the differently-abled persons in all segments of life,” the president said in his address at a wheelchair distribution ceremony held at the Presidency. The Embassy of Azerbaijan in Islamabad gifted 100 customised wheelchairs to the disabled people in Pakistan, at an event attended by First Lady Samina Alvi, Azerbaijan’s Ambassador Ali Alizada and a number of disabled persons, including children. President Alvi emphasised on adopting inclusive approach towards persons with disabilities by providing them education at regular schools instead of secluding them at special institutes. He said persons with physical, visual or hearing impairment could be easily absorbed into the normal school system, to be followed by targeted skilled training for their accommodation at workplace. “It is the time to shun the stereotype approach towards disabled persons and give them opportunities and access to facilities,” he said. He stressed the need for proper implementation of disabled quota in jobs and ensuring training through National Vocational and Technical Training Commission (NAVTTC) and Technical Education and Vocational Training Authority (TEVTA) for effective results. The president mentioned that of the social welfare agenda initiated by him and his wife, the uplift of disabled people was a priority and ‘a subject close to their hearts’. He said the government under Ehsaas project had registered two million people with disabilities for disbursement of stipend, while banks had also launched schemes to offer loans for special persons to carry out small and medium enterprises. The president mentioned that the Capital Development Authority chairman had assured him that all pavements in Islamabad would get ramps by March, besides 250 public parks to also become wheel-chair enabled in near future. He said the government was working with the business community of Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi to make accessible the market places for disabled. He said a survey revealed that around 15 percent of the population of Pakistan was suffering with different forms of disabilities, which needed to be given an access-friendly environment in buildings and public places. He pointed that lack of facilities at public places forced the families to confine their disabled members at homes. The President extended sincere gratitude to Azerbaijan for gifting wheelchairs to the disabled people of Pakistan, saying the precious gesture of compassion was a belief in respecting the rights of such people. He lauded Ambassador Ali Alizada for his commendable job of contributing to the socio-welfare development of Pakistan through launching projects in fields of education, culture, environment and health, including providing assistance to Thalassemia Centre in Islamabad.