Zahid Abdullah

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Full Name
Zahid Abdullah
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Years Of Experience
20
Distinction/certification
Multiple awards in the work related to civil society
first blind person to serve as Federal Information Commissioner in Pakistan
Job Details
As Federal Information Commissioner, my job is to ensure implementation of the Right of Access to Information Act2017 , create awareness about the constitutional right of citizens to have access to information held by public bodies in matters of public importance.
Challenges
Problems don’t challenge me, I challenge them
Biographical Profile
The Man who Saw the World with his Sightless Eyes

In year 1968, I was born in a middle class family, in a village of district Sargodha. In my infancy I had partial sight in the day time but suffered complete night blindness. When I reached school going age, an uncle, who had passed his Intermediate and was the most highly educated person in the family, suggested that I should be enrolled in a Madressa to be trained as a ‘Hafiz’ as he was extremely low visioned.

However, the idea did not appeal to my mother. She had been to school herself for four years and could read and write. She loved to read women’s magazines and would read them aloud to other women in the family who gathered round her in the evenings. In one of the stories she read, the protagonist had studied English and had a Masters degree in the subject. When the proposal of sending me to a Madressa was made by my uncle, she put her foot down. She said she had other plans for her son. The boy would go to a regular school. She wanted me to get a Master’s degree in English.
I passed my Matriculation from Abdul Hakim, a small town in district Khanewal.
I took admission in Mianchannu College for my Intermediate in Commerce. My family could not afford the hostel fees for me. So, for two years I commuted to the college by public buses on a daily basis. This was quite a challenge for me because with my low vision it was not easy to board buses in the morning rush hour.
The problem was further aggravated when I took admission in Bosan Road College, Multan for my graduate programme, as the inaccessible transportation was a big challenge for me.
I then enrolled myself in Government College Sargodha for my M.A. English. This was not easy either. Around this time my vision had fallen further. Yet I continued to attempt to write my exams on my own without the help of an amanuensis. I was not aware at that time that I could ask for the services of a writer since writing was becoming difficult due to my disability. I failed in one of the courses three times and my hopes of doing Masters from the Punjab University were dashed although I had passed all the other courses.
I then went to Bahawalpur to take my M.A. exam as a private candidate. For twenty days I stayed in poor living conditions. It was a last ditch effort on my part to pass my M A English. I did it in the first attempt and my mother’s dream finally came true.
In 1999, I switched over to the computer and began to learn to operate a screen reading software called JAWS. Now I could read and write anything with the help of this software like any sighted person.
I have taught a variety of subjects as a part time teacher in Al-Khair, Greenwich, Preston, Iqra, and Bahria universities. In 2004, I did my MS in Development Studies from Iqra University. Since then I have been working in for different non-governmental organisation in the area of transparency and right to information. I think it is very important for us, if we want to develop, to make our government accountable to citizens and I trained people how to do this.
I cannot see but have travelled on my own to Delhi, Bangalore, Dhaka, Columbo, Bali, Jakarta, Geneva, Washington, New Orleans, New York, Boston, Dublin and Galway and many other cities within and outside Pakistan. I also writes articles for newspapers and have contributed many Op-Ed articles on disability, right to information and other social/political issues to Express Tribune, The News and Dawn.
In recognition of my work on transparency, federal government appointed me as Federal Information Commissioner in November 2018 for a tenure term of 4 years.
I live in Islamabad with my wife Sheeza and three daughters Zunaira Zahid, Haniya Mahnoor and Sameera Zahid.