PESHAWAR: The life of six-year-old Adnan changed forever after he stepped on a landmine planted on a dirt track leading to his school near his village in Kurram Agency. He lost both his legs in the blast.
Three months before the fatality, which befell him while going to school, Adnan was a normal boy. He was running, playing and studying in the school, but now he is disabled and under-treatment in Peshawar.
Like Adnan, more than 50 boys and girls hailing from different parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Fata, who suffered disabilities in similar incidents, assembled at Pakistan Institute of Prosthetics and Orthotic Sciences (PIPOS), Hayatabad, Peshawar, on Tuesday to observe International Day of Persons with Disabilities. All of them narrated their ordeals.
Mohammad Aslam, a resident of Dera Ismail Khan, found a toy outside his home when floods hit the area in August 2010. He brought the toy and gave it to his four-year-old son Tayyeb Hussain. The toy, shaped like cover of the flask, exploded when minors started playing with it. Tayyeb lost his right leg while two other minors were injured critically in the blast.
Mr Aslam could not identify this hidden killer, which he spotted in the floodwater. “I thought it was a toy and gave it to my son to play with it,” he said.
Mohammad Farooq, a student of grade-VII, was caught in crossfire between militants and security forces in Bara subdivision of Khyber Agency about two years ago. A shell landed near Farooq and he got injuries. His right leg was amputated at a hospital in Peshawar.
These innocent human beings have become victims of the ongoing conflict, violence and acts of terrorism. Some amputees have got artificial limbs while some are waiting for their turn. Almost all growing disabled persons present in the function were school going.
Despite the growing number of patients, the government is yet to compile consolidated data about amputees in the province and tribal areas. The managing director of PIPOS, Aziz Ahmad, said that there were 6,000 registered amputees only in Peshawar.
Both the state and the government seem to be unaware of the agonies of these amputees. The people, who have disabled in the conflict and acts of terrorism, are paid Rs100,000 each by the government under the compensation package.
For the rest of the life they have to pay the price for themselves. There is no economic rehabilitation plan for them. Presently, these disabled persons are at the mercy of PIPOS and humanitarian bodies like International Committee of the Red Cross.
Fata is the frontline territory in the war against terrorism and its people have been bearing the brunt, but the region has only one amputation centre so far that is in Bajaur Agency. The affected people have to come to Peshawar and other centres in the settled areas of the province.
Prof Bakhat Sarwar, the chairman of PIPOS, said that 70 per cent patients visiting the institute for getting artificial limbs were victims of the conflict and terrorism and majority of them were children. Those people required treatment at their doorsteps, he said.
“Every amputee has to change artificial limb at least 30 times till he reaches the average age of 70,” he said, adding that the number of amputees was increasing in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Fata and Balochistan because of the conflict and violence.
Prof Sarwar said that the institute had established centres in 15 districts of the province and one in Bajaur Agency. He said that such centres would be opened in the remaining districts and tribal agencies. There should be rehabilitation centres at tehsil level for disabled people, he suggested.
Beatrice Oechsli, the head of sub-delegation ICRC, stressed the need for awareness about problems of persons with disabilities.
She said that one could live with disability one day and society should support disabled persons. She said that ICRC would continue assistance for the rehabilitation of disabled persons.