Voices of Leaders

Ms. Zahida Qureshi

Ms. Zahida Qureshi
My name is Zahida Hameed Qureshi, I belong to Multan. When I was one year old I had polio due to which both of my legs became paralyzed, so now I conduct my chores with the help of wheelchair, but I never let my disability take control over me. Even though I faced difficulties on every step but I never made these problems a barrier for me.

I got educated in an inclusive environment till my university. I did my MA in economics from Bahwaldin Zakriya University. I always worked hard and had faith in Allah, because of this passion Allah created options for me and I was successful. I did my metric in science subjects and passed with good numbers. After that, I did my FA and BA from Government Degree College. I was regular independent student. If you have will to do so then Allah also creates way for it. My siblings used take me to school and I am very thankful to them.

Due to building being inaccessible I faced difficulties realizing my problem my professor Dr. Karamat who was the chairman of our department supported me and got a ramp made till my department for the motorcycle to reach. UNFORTUNATELY, in western world everything is shown accessible unlike in Pakistan due to which disable people cannot do anything freely.

After completing my education when I entered the professional life a lot of institutions rejected me on the basis of my disability. I did not give up and continued to search, Allah opened up new doors for me and today I am working in SPO. In this institution without any precious disabled people are included and I am very happy. Along with my job I am working for disabled people as this passion was in me, to impart what I have learned from my education and experienced to other disabled people and especially focused on women with disabilities as I myself a woman.

I have made an institution for disabled people which are known as Society for Special Person. Disabled people are their best advocate with this thought I opened up this platform so that they can express their problems in a better way so that they can struggle for their rights more strongly. They should not become burden on society and their family, they should try to create opportunity for themselves and help the country. In 2007, my DPO on the basis of self help was established.

My DPO is working on basic human rights of disabled people. This DPO has done multiple things up till now we have conducted a survey of 3000 disabled people in south Punjab and also got financial help from other organizations. This DPO did a lot of work for flood victims. In field of cricket their members got position and gifts. In different meetings and conferences carried out by government and NGOs members of DPO participated in them and lightened people with their views and suggestion. This DPO with the help of other organizations gave wheel chair and sewing machines to their members for skill development. Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani also appreciated the efforts of these people. Disabled people should not be ignored as a charity case.

Through the platform of this DPO I submitted my suggestions regarding disabled people in Pakistan in an UN Conference and planned a strategy for coming 10 years. In 2010, keeping in mind the upcoming floods I unformed NDMA with my views for the affected disabled flood victims, NDMA took my views seriously and included in guidelines. With the support of MPA Malik Ahmad 2ooo disabled people were distributed the cheque of 50,000 RS with the help of BAIT UL MAAL the purpose of this was to encourage independent living an economic opportunity. In Multan this institution is the only that works with honesty for disabled people. This DPO is working for non disabled people along with disabled people.

The winter sun: Dr. Salma Maqbool (Late)

Dr Salama MaqboolDr. Salma Maqbool, was the voice of the disabled in this country. After she was   diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa — an incurable genetic disorder leading to blindness — she took it upon herself to elevate her individual struggle to a bigger sphere. From there started a journey that left an indelible mark on history of social welfare in Pakistan. A young visually impaired female doctor would go on to single handedly establish ‘Darakhshan’, a Vocational Rehabilitation Centre for Women with Disability, develop the National Policy on Disability for the Ministry of Social Welfare, chair the Committee on the Status of Blind Women of the World Blind Union and manage the Pakistan Foundation Fighting Blindness in the capacity of Chairperson. Her proudest achievement however remained the induction of visually impaired in the Civil Services of Pakistan, a first in the 60-year history of Federal Public Service Commission. This in itself is beyond most will ever aspire to do in their lives, but being her niece I was privy to facets of her personality that were much personal.



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Dhoop aur Saayay (Sunshine and Shadows) by Dr. Fatima Shah (late)

Dr. Fatima ShahDr. Shah, who was one of the founding members of the All Pakistan Women’s Association, received an MBE (member of the British Empire) for her social services on the occasion of the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.

She also founded the Pakistan Association of the Blind in 1960 which developed into a national self-help movement. She remained its president for 25 years, retiring in 1984. The late Begum Raana Liaquat sent Dr Shah to the United States to take a course. There, Dr Shah found herself becoming active and became one of the founding members of the International Federation of the Blind, a world self-help movement established in New York, and held many offices including that of the president.



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Saima Ammar (Late) leaves while her scent stays

Saima AmmarSaima Ammar, Chief Executive Officer of Pakistan Foundation Fighting Blindness (PFFB) lost her eyesight at the age of two-and-a-half. Her optic nerve was totally damaged following a severe attack of typhoid in 1971. Saima’s started her education in Pakistan at the Al-Maktoum Special Education Centre, did her matric from Station School, and graduated from F G College for Women. Her biggest dream was to get a Masters degree in International Relations from Quaid-i-Azam University and to appear for the CSS exam. In the absence of a special seat for disabled under the quota system, she tried her luck through open merit, topped the entrance test, as well as the first two semesters at QAU, till she learnt that she was not eligible to appear for the CSS exam on medical grounds. “I immediately lost interest in studies. I thought why should I bother myself, because being blind, I had to work twice as hard,” she regretfully stated, hoping that this absurd law would also be done away with soon.

Unlike Saima, most people with disabilities are not fortunate enough to have lead a “pampered bund life,” as she describes it. When doctors in Pakistan indicated that there was no treatment for her particular atrophy of the eye, Saima’s uncle in London adopted her. She got admission at the Linden Lodge School, and then went to Chorley Wood College – the best college for blind people in England.



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Fantastic lady: AJK Bagh, Pakistan

Nasreen AzizShe is an Administrative Officer at the APCD -Asia/Pacific Development Centre on Disability – in Thailand. This center is facilitating networking, cooperation and capacity building among disability related organizations in the region, by establishing focal points for cooperation and information sharing. Saowalak Thonkguay’s duties in APCD are to organize seminars and to plan the budget for these seminars/workshops, to coordinate with disability related organizations and individuals, and to handle incoming mails for the mission team. She is also in charge of secretarial work. Saowalak Thongkuay is also a member of a number of organizations working for and with PWDs, for example RVSD (The Redemptorist Vocational School for the Disabled), Pattaya orphanage trust, and Wheelchair Global Club. In these associations she is responsible for fund raising activities and for advocating accessibility issues.



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Meet Lozina Shoaib!

LOZINA SHOAIB‘Back in ’79, when I was born, there was no concept of an inclusive system but my parents decided not to put me in a special school. I was told right from the day that I started understanding… that I am different. I started learning about good things. That was a huge part of building my confidence’ explains Lozina ‘I remember the first day I went to school. I saw that everyone else was alike and I was different.’ But that did not trouble her. Lozina would remember the bedtime stories told by her father every night. She would gather all her classmates the next day and retell the stories. She slowly won them over and soon enough no one was riding the swing for Lozina couldn’t.

In 1999, Lozina graduated from C.B. Cantt College with a Bachelor’s degree. Not much later, she gave an entrance test at Fatima Jinnah University.‘ I was busy having fun with my cousins when my friend called and told me about this test the next day.’ Lozina tells me ‘I had no time to prepare but I went anyways. A few days later, I got a call from my class fellow while I was sleeping’. ‘Your name is the first name for the interview’, her friend screamed over the phone. Lozina thought it must have been a mistake because she performed so miserably at the test. As it turned out, it wasn’t. She showed up for the interview next morning. One interviewee after another, the long line pulled in.



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Appeal for 380 wheelchairs, 100 tricycles by Zahida Qureshi

Zahida Hameed
Zahida Hameed this while talking to this agency here on Thursday, said that her society had been playing the role of facilitator for the provision of wheelchairs and tricycles to special persons. “We distributed 315 wheelchairs amongst deserving persons, including women. These wheelchairs were distributed in Rajanpur, Muzaffargarh, Multan and some other cities of south Punjab,” she pointed. She stated that National Bank of Pakistan, Baitul Mal, Special Talent Exchange Programme (STEP),Rotary Club and others organisation had offered wheelchairs to the society. She informed that they had received 100 applications for tricycles as the persons wished mobility to earn livelihood or acquire education. Zahida Hameed appealed to philanthropists and donor organisations to donate tricycles and wheelchairs for special persons as the new year sets in.



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Khuddar Pakistan Radio Talk Show

Rehana Khan

Rehana Khan, a person with disability and a motivational speaker for youth hosts the Radio Show. Passionate about helping fellow PWD to overcome the challenges they face, she has been a participant in a number of radio shows that have centered on Disability awareness. Rehana believes the radio show is a great platform to reach the masses and discuss their experiences. “The show gives me an opportunity to interact with other PWD through live calls. We share experiences and have open discussions. I had always wanted to host such a show and was delighted when this project came along.” she says.

The PWD community recognizes the show as informative and motivating. Rustam Ali Khan, a small-business owner from Sindh has been a regular PWD caller. “There are no such programs exclusively running for PWDs in my area.” he says. “Telenor Pakistan has taken a big step and should continue with their efforts for the disabled community.”

Hafiz Sajid-ur-Rehman, a visually-impaired government employee from Rawalpindi adds on by sharing his experience. “It is discouraging to have society constantly challenge PWDs to prove their worth. We have a right to be treated fairly and be provided with the same opportunities as everyone else. This show provides us with a platform where our voices are heard”.



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167141_109307225811058_4588086_nLike herself, Abia aims to empower women with disabilities:

Akram has become the first ever Pakistani woman with disability to be nominated as the Coordinator for Commonwealth Young Disabled People’s Forum and Global Coordinator at Global Network of Emerging Women Leader, Disabled People’s International.

Born with physical disability into a middle-class family in Islamabad, she began her education at a centre for persons with disabilities and is currently pursuing her Masters in Gender Policy at University of Warwick on the British Chevening scholarship.

She is a harbinger of hope for people, especially women with disabilities in the country. “In a society where women with disabilities are mostly considered a liability, my achievements have proven that they (the women) can leave their mark in any field,” she said.



Benazir Bhutto was great leader of women rights

KARACHI: President Disable Welfare Association DWA Karachi Nazia Ayub said on Friday that Shaheed Benazir Bhutto was a the great leader of women rights in Pakistan and saw dream that women will participate along with men in development of Pakistan and exploited women will also live with dignity in society.

Addressing a press conference at Karachi Press Club in connection with International Women’s Day, she demanded that word “people with disabilities” should be used instead of special or disable persons and disabled should be treated as a person not with focusing their disability. She said government should allow organizations of women with disabilities to sit in meetings and they should have a right in decision making.

She said international rule should be followed for persons with disabilities in public transport, buildings, and the places for entertainment.

Nazia said disability certificate should be posted and made within 15 days for convince of women with disability and the offices of disabled certificate department should be made on ground floor.



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