Twitter users brimmed with pride at Counsellor Saima Saleem, who delivered a speech in braille as she represented Pakistan at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) debate on Saturday.
The Permanent Mission of Pakistan to the United Nations (UN) in New York, posted a video of visually impaired Saleem, who delivered a speech on India’s atrocities in occupied Kashmir.
Saleem said that India had occupied a ‘disputed territory’ and a ‘plebiscite’ was warranted under UN Security Council resolutions to resolve the conflict. She also criticized India for having a ‘compulsive obsession’ with Pakistan, which manifested in the constant deployment of the Bhartiya Janata Party’s (BJP) ‘baseless allegations’ against the country.
Several users lauded Saleem’s appointment to deliver the powerful speech. Journalist Kamil Ahmad praised whoever gave a ‘differently abled’ person the opportunity to represent Pakistan on such a high stage. Ahmad added that a person lambasting fascism in braille was the highlight of the UNGA for him.
Whosoever at @ForeignOfficePk gave opportunity to a differently abled lady official to represent Pak and respond India at UN deserves loads of praise. If you ask me what was the highlight of UNGA session, it was our envoy responding to a fascist regime while reading from braille. pic.twitter.com/XW5AwE6tug
— Kamil Ahmed ☭ (@BeingKamil) September 25, 2021
High Commissioner to the Commonwealth of Australia Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri said that the Foreign Office had done well to provide equal opportunity for ‘specially-abled’ people like Saleem. Chaudhri added that Saleem was one of the ‘brightest officers’ employed in foreign services in Pakistan.
Saima is one of the specially abled and brightest officers of the Foreign Service of Pakistan. We are proud of our ‘equal opportunity organisation’ culture. @SMQureshiPTI @FMPublicDiploPK @ForeignOfficePk https://t.co/23EHnqPIrk
— Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri (@Zhchaudhri) September 26, 2021
Anchor Madeha Naqvi said she held back tears as she listened to Saleem’s address. Naqvi said that Saleem was the ‘epitome of strength and inspiration’.
Trying to hold back my tears … can’t be more proud of you Saima Saleem … you are epitome of strength and inspiration … WOW just WOW https://t.co/nO1uRs2aaJ
— madeha naqvi (@madehanaqvi) September 26, 2021
Many users were proud of Saleem for representing Pakistan so formidably in the speech, which she exercised as a right of reply on Pakistan’s behalf against India at the UNGA.
— Aleem Durrani (@AleemDurrani2) September 26, 2021
— Sarah Hasan (@SarahHasanRizvi) September 26, 2021
Well done Ms Saima Saleem. Proud of you 👍. Love and regards ❤️❤️ https://t.co/3naBFm5TNU
— Rtn Nabila Tariq Adv (@nabilatariq1) September 26, 2021
Filmmaker Sana Tauseef also applauded Saleem and said that she was a daughter of the nation who made her country proud. Tauseef added that Saleem had set a new standard of inspiration to strive for.
Daughter of Pakistan making her country proud. More power to you Saima Saleem. You’ve set a new bar for inspiration. https://t.co/1ZsCBs07Ec
— Sana Tauseef (@SanaaTauseef) September 26, 2021
Communications specialist Ammara Qazi said that Saleem powerfully presented the true face of the Kashmir conflict as her finger slid left and right, as was common for one reading a braille document.
As she slid fingers left to right & spoke eloquently,setting record straight abt Kashmir,highlighting Indias involvement with terrorist outfits on our Western border to destabilise🇵🇰,my heart filled wth pride not only at her achievement,but for presenting true case of 🇵🇰& Kashmir https://t.co/DKK3GsXr5c
— Ammara Qazi (@Ammara_Kazi) September 26, 2021
As many praised Saleem, journalist Zarrar Khurro pointed out that Saleem was possibly the sister of Yousaf Saleem, the first visually impaired judge in Pakistan.
If I'm not mistaken she's the sister of yousuf saleem who is set to be pakistans first visually impaired judge. https://t.co/kXloPhBVdg
— Zarrar Khuhro (@ZarrarKhuhro) September 26, 2021
True to Khurro’s speculation, the duo are siblings. Saleem has a rich professional history to her credit. She holds an LLM degree in international human rights law and international humanitarian law from the University of Geneva.
The lawyer has also served as a deputy secretary to the Prime Minister Office in 2017 and has represented Pakistan at various UN platforms such as the UNHCR, UN-Women and UNICEF. Saleem has been celebrated as the first blind civil servant of Pakistan, for whom the government amended the rules of recruitment for employment in the foreign services of Pakistan.