While every differently abled person is a representation of grit and courage, some break through the barriers and become a beacon of hope for their differently abled peers and us alike – like Yousef Salim.
Yousef Salim is a gold medalist of the Punjab University in LLB (Honors) and had topped the written judiciary exam among 6,500 candidates in 2014. Despite his tremendous achievement, he was not considered fit for the job and failed the interview.
Yousef did not give up and fought for his right. Eventually, Chief Justice of Pakistan took notice of his plea and advised 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.
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-Magistrate.”
“It’s a historic moment for blind people of Pakistan as someone from our community will represent us in the court of law. This shows that that people are now being selected on the basis of their abilities and not their disabilities,” said Zulqarnain Asghar, a visually impaired clinical psychologist in Islamabad.
The fortitude isn’t an anomaly for Yousef, as it runs in the family.
Son of a Chartered Accountant, Yousef is also a brother to 4 sisters. Two of which are also visually impaired. One of them, Saima Salim, is the first blind civil services officer who has served in Pakistan’s UN missions in Geneva and New York. Saima is also known as Helen Keller of Pakistan and is seen as a true beacon of hope for many differently abled individuals. The other one, Ayesha, teaches at a university in Lahore and is also completing her PhD.
Yousef represents an exception in the otherwise marginalized differently abled community in Pakistan. He is adamant that physically or mentally impaired children should be provided with the basic infrastructure needed to excel. In an interview with a foreign news agency, he revealed his greatest support came from his parents and school.
He is inspired by Pakistan’s founding father – Mohammad Ali Jinnah who was also a barrister. Salim’s dream is to become a Supreme Court judge and eventually serve as the Chief Justice of Pakistan.
Yousef Salim has made history, also highlighted the need for more effort into elevating the differently community on par with the rest.