Pakistan’s visually impaired diplomat wins praise for impressive UNGA speech

Web Desk
September 26, 2021

Pakistan’s Saima Saleem spoke using braille for the first time in a UNGA session

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Pakistan’s visually impaired diplomat Saima Saleem speaking in the UNGA.


ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s visually impaired diplomat Saima Saleem delivered a potent speech Saturday, presenting the country's position by using braille for the first time in a United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).

Taking to Twitter, Pakistan's permanent representative to the United Nations Munir Akram congratulated Saima Saleem for representing Pakistan via a potent speech during the UNGA session.

He said, “I congratulate Saima Saleem, my team member, for successfully putting forward Pakistan's position by exercising the right of reply.”

At the UNGA, Pakistani delegate Saima Saleem said India remains in occupation of an internationally recognized disputed territory whose final disposition needs to be decided in accordance with the democratic principle of a free and impartial plebiscite under UN auspices, as provided for under numerous resolutions of the Security Council.

In a hard-hitting statement made in exercise of her right of reply, Saima Saleem said India’s use of the canard of terrorism, regurgitating stale arguments are typical of all occupiers.

She said we call upon the international community to take cognizance of the compelling evidence and hold India accountable for its heinous crimes.

Profile: Saima Saleem

Born on August 10, 1984, Saima is the first blind Civil Servant of Pakistan. She is a career diplomat with insight and with her determination, has turned all stumbling blocks into stepping stones.

As a blind woman, she has not only struggled for the rights of persons with disabilities in her country but is also passionate about the promotion and protection of human rights, especially of vulnerable groups. She is also a strong advocate of global peace and interfaith and inter-religious dialogue and harmony.

She is a writer, motivational speaker and skillful negotiator, having expertise in international human rights and international humanitarian law, public and economic diplomacy, trade and investment-related issues and international security.

Education

She holds LLM in international law with a specialization in international human rights law and international humanitarian law from Geneva Academy, University of Geneva (Switzerland, 2019), Fulbright fellowship in Advanced Studies in International Affairs from Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University (United States, 2012) and M.Phil in English Literature from Kinnaird University for Women (Pakistan, 2008).

Professional Experience

Currently, she is working as a counsellor at the Permanent Mission of Pakistan to the United Nations, New York and dealing with human rights and humanitarian affairs in the Third Committee, General Assembly and Security Council and various UN entities, including UNHCR, OCHA, UN-Women, UNICEF, UNFPA, WHO and IOM.

Prior to being posted as Deputy Secretary at the Prime Minister Office in September 2017, she has been working as a Human Rights Expert representing Pakistan at the Human Rights Council at the Permanent Mission of Pakistan to the United Nations and Other International Organizations in Geneva from September 2013 to August 2017.

Awards and achievements

First blind Civil Servant of Pakistan--obtained the sixth position all over the country and is the first among the female candidates in the CSS Examination in 2007.

She also became first blind diplomat of Pakistan for whom rules for recruitment were amended by the government for joining the Foreign Service.

She was awarded the gold medal by the Foreign Service Academy, a distinction by the Civil Services Academy, a gold medal for her Masters in English Literature qualification and the Dr Mira Phailbus Gold Medal for Academic Excellence in B.A by Kinnaird University. She was also awarded the Fatima Jinnah Gold Medal on International Women’s Day and the Quaid-E-Azam Gold Medal for the best academic performance.


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