Netizens salute Saima Saleem’s powerful reply to India in braille

Saima Saleem is Pakistan’s first visually impaired diplomat who represents country on various UN platforms

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.

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.

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’.

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.

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.

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 many praised Saleem, journalist Zarrar Khurro pointed out that Saleem was possibly the sister of Yousaf Saleem, the first visually impaired judge in Pakistan.

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.