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Pakistan set to appoint its first blind judge

ISLAMABAD: A visually-challenged young man, who is also a gold medalist, is set to be appointed Pakistan’s first-ever blind judge.

Yousuf Saleem was once stopped from becoming a judge due to visual impairment. Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar took notice of the case after media reports and directed the chief justice of the Lahore High Court (LHC) to review the case saying that a person could be a judge even if he is blind, provided he meets all other qualifications.

Following the order, LHC chief justice and its relevant committee reconsidered him as a candidate and recommended him for the position of the civil judge.

Saleem received a letter of recommendation by the Lahore High Court last week which read: “Honourable Examination Committee for Recruitment of District Judiciary and Lahore High Court Establishment has recommended you for appointment as Civil Judge-cum-Magistrate.”

Salim who hails from Lahore is the son of a charted accountant. He has four sisters and two of them are also visually impaired.

Pakistan first blind judge Yousuf Salim

In an interview with Gulf News, Saleem said recommendation was the first step towards the realisation of his dream to become a judge. “There would be some legal formalities in coming weeks before the official appointment,” he said.

Saleem is a gold medallist of the Punjab University in LLB (Honors) and had topped the written judiciary exam among 6,500 candidates in 2014. But his impressive academic record only took him to the interview stage for the position of civil judge. He was among 21 successful candidates but was not selected as he was blind.

He expressed gratitude to CJP for taking notice of the situation and the chief justice of LHC and selection committee for reconsidering his case and recommending him as he is confident that he is fully eligible for the position.

One of his sisters, Saima Saleem, is the first blind civil services officer who has served in Pakistan’s UN missions in Geneva and New York. Yousaf is the youngest among siblings.

During the interview, he explained that “it is critical to establish a strong foundation for all children, especially differently abled, on which they can build fulfilling lives.” He shared that his biggest motivation comes from his parents and his teachers. “My school was the first place that gave me confidence to dream big.”

“I am inspired by Pakistan’s founding father Mohammad Ali Jinnah who was also a barrister. Saleem’s dream is to become a Supreme Court judge and he wishes to serve as the Chief Justice of Pakistan, one day.

He believes that Pakistan’s differently abled community should trust their abilities and work hard to achieve their goals. “If you don’t believe in your dreams no one will” he said.

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