‘Have a heart!’, President reprimands ANF over denial to blind candidate to appear in exam

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ISLAMABAD: President Dr Arif Alvi has taken a strong exception to the denial of opportunity to a blind person, who had applied for the post of Assistant (BS-15) in the Anti-Narcotics Force (ANF).

The candidate was barred from taking the examination by the invigilator on the ground that he was blind and was unable to perform the duties of the Assistant.

“We need to make a special effort for differently-abled people to make them part of our society and enable them to earn their livelihood. However, through such acts, we will make them a social burden on the nation. Have a heart!”, the President as he decided on a representation filed by complainant Suleman Arshad against a decision of the Wafaqi Mohtasib.

The president termed the premature denial of the opportunity to take the examination by ANF’s staff “an act of maladministration” and remanded the case to the Wafaqi Mohtasib to hear it afresh on merit with the direction to decide the matter within 30 days.

He termed the attitude of ANF’s staff as “reprehensible and smacked of an ignorance bias”.

He added that there was no rule to reject a person, that too by an invigilator who was supposed to only conduct the examination, without affording him the opportunity to show his skill or giving him a hearing.

The president said that the ANF’s stance that a blind man would require an additional person for the discharge of his functions and that the complainant was not fit for the Secretariat nature job was rooted in ignorance. He stated that the agency had prematurely denied the complainant the opportunity without referring the case to the Medical Board to examine him physically and determine the fitness of the complainant for the post of Assistant.

Dr Alvi said that he had given Presidential Awards to blind people who had performed excellently, adding that there were hundreds of cases of visually impaired Pakistanis who had done exceptional work even internationally. He particularly mentioned that Yousaf Saleem, a visually impaired lawyer, became Pakistan’s first blind judge in 2018, and Saima Saleem made headlines on making Pakistan proud when she addressed the UN General Assembly with a strong speech in support of the right of Kashmiris to self-determination.

“All cameras were on her as she sat behind the Pakistan nameplate and read her address written in Braille”, he noted. He also mentioned that there were food outlets in Karachi and Islamabad which were being run totally by visually impaired people and that he had been personally served at these outlets and had found the service to be excellent.

The president noted that ANF’s act was in total disregard to human rights, adding that Pakistan was a signatory to many international charters and treaties against discrimination of all sorts, including gender and disabilities.

In his decision, the President said that these basic aspects were not considered and heard by the Wafaqi Mohtasib, thus, the case was remanded back to it for a fresh hearing and deciding on merit.

As per details, Suleman Arshad had applied for the post of Assistant in ANF against its advertisement published on 29.11.2020. According to him, on the test day, after arriving at the venue, the concerned officer of the ANF had not allowed him to appear in the examination with the remarks that he was blind and unable to perform the duties of the Assistant. Feeling aggrieved, he approached WM who passed the order to close the matter stating that the functions of Assistant could not be performed by a blind person and that the complainant had listened to the arguments of ANF’s representative and had failed to rebut them. Afterward, Arshad filed a representation with the President, who asked Mohtasib to hear the matter afresh on merit.

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