Saira Shams – A Hope For The Hopeless
Saira Shams, 27, is one of the few physically disabled women politicians from her region who has been elected as a counsellor from Lower Dir district in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) in the previous local body elections. She is also a member of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) women wing.
Talking about her mission, Saira said, “When my father died, I had his mission in my mind. So I continued working on my father’s vision and made it my own.”
From the very start, Saira was a very courageous woman who was committed to the legacy of her late father. She has pledged to carry her father’s legacy forward as she believes that doing so is her top priority.
Despite her disability, the politician never compromised on her education and got her Masters degree in Sociology from the Abdul Wali Khan University of Mardan. She is now pursuing a career in politics.
While talking to Naya Daur, she said, “All parties were inviting me to join them. Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) President Sirajul Haq and other political leaders came to our house with the request that I join their party.”
Saira has provided hope to the disabled people of her area by doing something new and positive for those who do not receive any support from the society. According to her, working for the rights of disabled people was the sole purpose of her life.
After joining politics, she preferred to join Imran Khan’s PTI as he had an effective slogan for the youth of Pakistan at that time. “I considered Khan as a good leader and after much consideration I joined his party to promote his political vision,” she said.
“After I joined the PTI, I didn’t sit idle at home but instead worked day and night for the people who had no voice in society. I continued campaigning for the party and was made a member of the women cabinet. I also participated in intraparty elections,” Saira elaborated.
After a long struggle, Saira was nominated by her party as a division president for Malakand. In 2015 she was nominated on a reserved seat and won her seat in local elections. From 2015 to 2019, she worked as a counsellor in her native area. According to Saira, she won many projects for her district while working for the rights of women and special persons.
Talking to Naya Daur, she said that during her tenure, she highlighted the issue of low quality wheelchairs being provided to disabled persons by the social welfare department. “These chairs were not comfortable for disabled persons,” she said.
Replying to a question, she said, “I would be lying if I say that I have no problems. I have faced many problems because my physical condition is different from other people. People with disabilities face many hurdles in our country.”
She lamented that society usually deals with disabled persons as expendables and call them a burden on society. But I think that it’s a wrong perception because despite my disability, I have worked a lot in my life, she said.
Saira said that during student life, some people used to tell my father that I would not be able to study with my disability, and asked him to keep me at home rather than to send me to college for further education. “But I kept struggling and fought for my rights and for the rights of others as well,” she said.
Besides being discouraged by her relatives, Saira was also taunted by her college principal. She recalled that the principal of Jinnah College in Peshawar was not friendly, saying that once she asked my mother not to send me to college because I was meant to spend my life at home.
Moreover, Saira said that it was the need of the hour to give special seats to disabled people in the provincial and national assemblies so that disabled people could get ample representation.
The budding politician also said that she would apply for a senate seat in the future to raise her voice for all women and disabled persons.
Saira told Naya Daur that she would continue fighting for the rights of disabled people and would keep up her struggle until their problems were resolved.