MINGORA: Disappointed in the performance by the usual candidates, a man with visual impairment has decided to contest a general councillor seat in local government elections so he can help people in Swat. “People who can see only make tall claims when it comes to the implementation of their promises to help people with physical impairments,” Roshan Ali tells The Express Tribune. “Their indifference has urged me to contest elections.”
Roshan Ali, 46, has always had a visual impairment to contend with. Colloquially called phool, Ali is afflicted with congenital cataract. But this resident of Shahdara Watkey in Mingora did not let that interfere with his life any more than it has to, and submitted his nomination papers for a general councillor seat.
Ali sells sugarcane juice to earn a living for himself, his wife and six children. In his free time, Ali is engaged in social work in the area.
Ali was not fortunate enough to have access to education; there is no government school for people with physical impairments in Swat and no specialised institutions to educate people with visual impairment. “If elected, I will ask the government to upgrade the existing middle school to a higher level and set up a centre for learning for people with visual impairments,” he promises.
Ali has made sure all of his children have the fortune of attending school.
He says it upsets him to see the attitude of people towards those with visual impairment. “They look down on us and usually just walk off when a person with visual impairment asks them for help in, let’s say, crossing the road.” He adds not many people in society are willing to lend a helping hand to people with physical impairments.
Mirroring society’s apathy, the government is also not very supportive and has not taken steps for the welfare of people with physical impairments in the region, says Ali. “Every person, be it from the government or any other sector, only makes tall claims and forgets the promises they make when it’s time to put them into practice.”
There is a two per cent quota of government jobs for people who have disabilities but this policy is seldom followed,” he says. “Those who have sources take over positions reserved for people like us.”
In high spirits
However, injustice in society has not dampened the spirits of Ali who is confident of his success in the polls. He says his efforts in humanitarian activities would earn him victory. “I have always worked for the welfare of the people with physical impairments and have tried to get their grievances addressed,” he says. “This is the reason why people are by my side and will elect me.”
Ali believes every person has some kind of skill or ability which should be considered by the government. “There should be educational and vocational institutions to help these people polish their skills.”
The candidate from Shahdara Watkey adds he does not feel like he lags behind in any way and will prove his ability by standing true to his promises, if he is elected.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 4th, 2015.