Yusuf Salim of Lahore completed the degree of Law (LLB) in 2014 with the Gold Medal from Punjab University. For the next two years, he practiced law, fulfilled all the requirements of becoming a judge, even getting the top position among the 6,500 candidates in the examination. But during the interview he was felicitated and he was told that he can not become a judge. The reason given was that they are visually impaired.
Yusuf Salim, 25, is a special genetic disorder called retinitis pigmentosa. Because of this, when he was a child, his eyesight was only 30-40 percent, but gradually he got worse, and now he has only the illumination of eyes.
Pakistan’s Chief Justice Justice Sakeb Nisar took automatic cognizance in this matter. On his case, the selection committee reconsidered and then Yusuf was selected for this post. Now he is ready to become the first blinded judge of Pakistan.
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I met Yusuf at his house in Lahore. As soon as he entered the room, I raised him to help him in But before I walked a few steps, he walked in the rooms with fast steps and sat next to me.
He told me about his problems during the time of becoming judge and also how he got the motivation to choose this profession.
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He said, “After the intermediate, I had a desire to have a law, this was the time when the lawyers’ movement was going on in Pakistan to restore the judiciary, in which I found the role of the lawyers very attractive, including Mohammad Ali Jinnah And Dr. Mohammed Iqbal both had studied law, this also inspired me. ”
“I like practicing law and I have done it, but I thought it would be better to become a judge because of this I will be able to take decisions under law and give justice to people.”
‘Every day you have to prove’
He believes that the justice process in Pakistan is very slow. He says, “Some people spend their entire lives, yet they are not able to get justice.” They explain the reason for the lack of judges and the burden of cases in large numbers on them.
As a blind person, he says, “You know that you can do things, but it is very difficult to convince others.”
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He also discussed how people sometimes want to help him unnecessarily, without asking whether he needs help or not. Soon I was going to do the same.
He says that the disabled wants to be treated as normal people and should try to bring the society into mainstream.
“As a handicap, you have to prove every day that you can do all things in the same way as a normal person does and this is the most difficult challenge in my life.”
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Regarding his experience, he says that sometimes educated people also have a wrong view of the disabled. He explains how a person asked one of his friends to work as an interpreter because he believed that he is blind, he would also have problems in speaking and listening.
He says, “Our biggest problem in society is that we do not want to communicate with people with disabilities, we do not want to know how they work or how others should behave with us.”
Making software the biggest assistant
Understanding that lot of studies have to be done for the degree of law, when I asked them about their way of working, they told me about JAWS (Job Accessibility with Speech) software. He said, “Anyone can read any book or article using the software, which is visually impaired after the technological advancement.”
He told me how with the help of this software the computer starts talking to them in robotic voice.
As you type something on Yusuf’s keyboard, the computer starts to read the word that they are typing. In this way, Yusuf took his college, his professional education and joined the professional examination.
They talk about that there are many issues related to availability for visually impaired people in Pakistan. There is an electronic copy of many books all over the world, but there is no such system in Pakistan.
He says, “Here I have to scan everything before reading, whereas in the rest of the world it is not so.”
With that he says that when he becomes a judge, this can be the biggest obstacle for him. “Electronic documents are not available for court documents.”
Despite all these difficulties, Yusuf has hopes for the future and he is very excited about the oath as judge.
It is not unusual for them because they come from a very educated family. Yusuf has two elder sisters, both of them are visually impaired. One of them is currently doing PhD.
His second sister, Saima Saleem, was the first blind-looking Pakistani to pass the Civil Services Examination. Then after serving for five years in Geneva and New York in Pakistan’s United Nations missions, currently working in the Prime Minister’s Office in Islamabad.