• Marium Nadeem

Reshaping Pakistan’s political world

Updated: Jul 2

Election season in Pakistan has always been a big deal; everyone’s fuelled by political spoofs and gossip, public rallies and fierce campaigns. Every family gathering involves the election discussion about who they are going to vote for; a new debate and meme on social media every 30 minutes. Yet things have always been different for the Deaf community. Due to lack of interpretation, elections have always been challenging for them and because their pleas to participate in the rebuilding of our country have long been ignored.

In the midst of election chaos and disaster, sparring political parties and candidate campaigns, the elections of 2018 had a positive twist for the marginalised Deaf community. Until the Elections of 2018, Pakistan was yet to witness an election that was made accessible for the Deaf. By welcoming Deaf participation and seeking their involvement, we want for them to establish their political identity and encourage their engagement in the political world.

Through our Facebook page, we had already made voter education more accessible by sharing information on voter registration and how, when and where to place their vote.

By making an effort to connect the Deaf community to the political process, ConnectHear in collaboration with GEO TV News and NOWPDP – a NGO with a disability inclusive vision broadcasted live election updates in sign language for the Deaf community.

Live Election 2018 commentary for the Deaf

The transmission kicked off with a brief about the electoral cycle, and included interpretation of timely updates, debates and all political dialogues exchanged. On Election Day, we went live where watchers enthusiastically commented, appreciated Usama, our sign interpreter, for his efforts and cheered for their preferred candidates in anticipation of the results.

Television announcements and radios regarding local and national politics have so long been inadequate to the Deaf; hearing-impaired voters have encountered difficulties be it during the voting process or the interpretation of results. The elections of 2018, however, put a halt to this where Deaf individuals not only participated in the voting process but also volunteered at polling stations.

“I volunteered on Election Day as a member of JI. Members supported me in the cause of Deaf empowerment. I stood at the voting booth and was responsible for verifying NIC’s and voting numbers on sheets,” said Osama Riaz, a Deaf student volunteer when defining his political experience.

As advocates of the local Deaf community, we are trying to actively undo the defining struggles that this community has faced for decades. By easing and supporting their political participation, we hope this is a step towards an all-encompassing society in the future.

Interpreted version of the blog: