There is business as usual when a diplomat represents his mother state at any of the international platforms. But the business as usual, becomes a proud moment when the representative is visually impaired and is about to make history.
Such was the case when Saima Saleem, a career diplomat represented Pakistan at a UNHRC meet held in Geneva Switzerland, reported Metronome, a local Face Book page. Saima Saleem is leading the case of Kashmir at 27th session of the Universal Periodic Review Working Group. Ironically, when Googled, we failed to find any local news piece on this crucial meet. Indian media, however, has substantively reported about the meeting. Apparently the review meet is part of series of meetings already happening in Geneva.
Saima is deputed as Second Secretary on Human Rights at Pakistan’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations at Geneva since 2013. Pakistan’s first visually impaired diplomat, Saima has had her share of struggles but nothing could distract her from her ultimate destiny, serving the country with pride.
Saima lost her sight during teenage due to a genetic disease Retinitis Pigmentosa. She completed her Bachelors and Masters from Kinnaird College for Woman, Lahore. Subject to the typical mentality of suppression and facing scarce opportunities, Saima didn’t bow down to any of it. Making it through, she succeeded not only as an outstanding student but also helped in creating exceptions for those who followed later. Unlike many other visually disabled, Saima opted for giving all her examinations with the help of Braille. She refused to avail the services of a writer, and hence for the first time a visually impaired was allowed to go solo. This though was not all.
Saima who had a brilliant record as a student decided to join the Civil Services of Pakistan. There were some firsts here as well. Saima is the first ever visually impaired civil servant of Pakistan. She also helped in changing the systems at Pakistan’s highest professional service. Denied an opportunity to appear in computer based examination, Saima was not tapping out. She not only won her right to computer examination but also opted for Foreign Service, a cadre she was not offered for her impairment.
Pakistan’s very own celebrated Helen Keller, is a Gold Medalist from the Foreign Service School, topping in her training, something that proves her metal. Saima later won a scholarship at School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University, USA. Representing Pakistan in United Nations, we understand that this is just the beginning to a glorious career which will bring much more to the country. This lady for sure is not there just for accolades, her passion and determination is there to serve the people. A role she is already playing with perfection.