Device created by deaf man allows Sindh's hearing impaired to drive

Mansoor Abdul Majeed shows his driver’s license to Arab News on December 6, 2019. (AN photo)
Updated 08 December 2019

Device created by deaf man allows Sindh's hearing impaired to drive

  • Sindh administration on Tuesday issued licenses to four individuals, including two females, who suffer from hearing impairment
  • Irfan Sharif invented a Traffic Surrounding Notifier device, paving the way for issuance of licenses to his community members

KARACHI: In a first, four people with hearing impairment got their driver’s licenses in Pakistan from the chief minister of Sindh province on Tuesday.

“The provincial administration of Sindh deserves the credit for this, especially its Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (DEPD) that made us the first Pakistanis to secure our legal right to drive,” 42-year-old Mansoor Abdul Majeed, who works at a local factory and received his license from the chief minister, told Arab News on Friday.

However, he pointed out it was not an easy task to reach this stage, adding that his community members had to invent a Traffic Surrounding Notifier (TSN) system to convince the authorities.




Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah presents driver’s license to Mansoor Abdul Majeed, a person with hearing impairment, at the CM House in Karachi on December 3, 2019. (Photo courtesy of CM House, Karachi)

“I was fighting for this right for several years,” he said. “The traffic police told us that we could not drive since we could not hear anything. After getting disappointed by the license branch, I discussed the idea with my friend, Irfan Sharif, who invented the device which we used to convince the authorities.”

“When demonstrated, the DIG of traffic police was surprised,” said Majeed, who also founded a community group, Media Deaf Karachi (MDK), to resolve the problems of his community members.




 In this undated image, Irfan Sharif, who suffers from hearing impairment, can be seen working on the Traffic Surrounding Notifier (TSN) device which made it easier for the authorities to issue driver’s licenses to people suffering from hearing impairment. (Photo supplied)


Sharif, a school teacher and part-time programmer who was born with hearing impairment, started working on the idea of developing a device that could help fulfill the legal requirements of driver’s license in 2017.

He found a gadget that vibrated and flashed when his baby cried and decided to turn it in the traffic surrounding notifier system.




The light of the Traffic Surrounding Notifier system blinks on the dashboard of Mansoor Abdul Majeed’s car on December 6, 2019. (AN photo)


“Whenever there is any sound signal, such as a horn or an ambulance siren, a light blinks on the dashboard of the car or motorbike and the driver can look into the rearview or side mirrors and act accordingly.”

A non-governmental organization, named Danish Kada, and Zaigham M. Rizvi extended the financial help to install the device in 25 cars, he said.

According to the World Health Organization, Pakistan has a population of 30 million people with disabilities. However, there are no official statistics available on the subject.

The 1998 census claimed that differently abled people constituted about 2.49 percent of the country’s population. In the 2017 census, that number was said to be 0.48 percent.

“Not only the persons with disability took it as a joke, but the Supreme Court, which has been hearing a constitutional petition, called the census count flawed and ordered a fresh survey of 300,000 households across Pakistan to estimate the number of persons with disabilities,” Ghulam Nabi Nizamani, director of the DEPD, told Arab News.




Mansoor Abdul Majeed is pointing toward a sticker on his vehicle in Karachi on December 6, 2019, indicating that it is driven by a person with hearing impairment. (AN photo)

The survey is yet to be conducted.

Meanwhile, Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah told Arab News that his administration was doing its best to educate people with physical impairments, adding it had converted schools of special children into rehabilitation centers.

“I have allocated five percent quota for differently abled persons in government service,” he said. “This is the reason that our government has created a separate full-fledged department so that differently abled people can be empowered.”

Meanwhile, people with hearing impairment are excited about the new development.




(Left to right) Farah Mughal, Mansoor Abdul Majeed, Ali Akber Noonari and Farah Naz can be seen in a group photo with Ghulam Nabi Nizamani, director of the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities, after obtaining their driver’s licenses at the Chief Minister House in Karachi on December 3, 2019. Nizamani, who works with the Sindh administration, is also a differently abled individual. (Photo supplied)

“We have been driving cars for years. But now we will be driving them legally. The development will help us reduce our dependence on others,” Majeed said, urging the traffic police to issue licenses for motorcycles as well since that would benefit a large segment of his community members.

“We are not inferior to anyone,” he said. “We need our due rights. I am happy that we live in a province which realizes its responsibility toward the differently abled people.”


Pakistan Air Force offers support, training to Sri Lankan military

Updated 37 min 42 sec ago

Pakistan Air Force offers support, training to Sri Lankan military

  • Chief Marshal Mujahid Anwar Khan earlier this week met Sri Lankan PM Mahinda Rajapaksa and top military officials in Colombo
  • Pakistan last month offered a $50 million credit line to Sri Lanka for cooperation in the field of defense and security  

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Air Force (PAF) chief has offered support to and agreed to strengthen cooperation with the Sri Lankan military, PAF said on Saturday.

Air Chief Marshal Mujahid Anwar Khan arrived in Colombo on Thursday, where he met with Sri Lankan Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and top military officials.

As Marshal Khan lauded the efforts of Sri Lankan Armed Forces in their fight against terrorism during a meeting with Defense Secretary Gen. Kamal Gunaratne, he offered Pakistan's support and cooperation, PAF said in a statement.


In this photo released by Pakistan Air Force (PAF) on March 6, 2021, Pakistan Air Chief Marshal Mujahid Anwar Khan meets Sri Lanka Defense Secretary Gen. Kamal Gunaratne in Colombo. (Photo courtesy: PAF)

"The leaders agreed to further enhance bilateral cooperation especially in training and professional enhancement programs," PAF said, adding that Gen. Gunaratne welcomed the Pakistani air chief's visit as "manifestation of the strong bond between the Armed Forces of both the countries, especially the two Air Forces."

The Pakistani air chief's visit follows Prime Minister Imran Khan's official visit in late February, during which Pakistan offered a $50 million new credit line to Sri Lanka for cooperation in the field of defense and security.


Train derails killing 1, injuring 40 in southern Pakistan

Updated 21 min 6 sec ago

Train derails killing 1, injuring 40 in southern Pakistan

  • Accident took place between the Rohri and Sangi stations in southern Sindh province
  • Eight cars of the 18-car train from Karachi to Lahore derailed and six fell into a shallow ditch

MULTAN: Eight cars of a Lahore-bound train derailed in southern Pakistan early Sunday, killing at least one passenger and injuring 40 others, officials said.

The accident took place between the Rohri and Sangi stations in southern Sindh province and caused a temporary suspension of railway traffic in both directions, said Kamran Lashari, a railway official.

It wasn’t immediately clear what caused the derailment. Train accidents are common in Pakistan, where successive governments have paid little attention to improving the poorly maintained signal system and aging tracks.

Lashari said eight cars of the 18-car train that departed from Karachi for the eastern city of Lahore derailed and six fell into a shallow ditch.

Rescue official Muhammad Arshad said darkness and the remote location of the derailment hampered rescue efforts. He said the body of the woman who died and 40 injured passengers were taken to hospitals in nearby towns. It wasn’t immediately clear how many passengers were on the train.

Railway Minister Azam Sawati told a local television station that the accident was being investigated and the government would provide financial compensation to the heirs of deceased woman and all the injured.


Pakistan’s security forces kill eight militants in North Waziristan — ISPR

Updated 17 min 39 sec ago

Pakistan’s security forces kill eight militants in North Waziristan — ISPR

  • The tribal district bordering Afghanistan remained a militant stronghold for many years until authorities launched military operations in the area
  • The militants killed in the recent attacks were involved in terrorist activities against security forces and locals since 2009

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s security forces conducted two separate intelligence-based operations in North Waziristan district, said the military’s media wing, ISPR, in an official statement on Saturday, adding that eight militants were killed in the ensuing battles. 

The tribal district bordering Afghanistan remained a militant stronghold until Pakistani authorities launched clear-and-hold military operations to destroy the hideouts and communication centers of various proscribed groups. 

The recent operations in the territory were launched against Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) militants in which three senior commanders of the outfit were also killed, the ISPR statement informed. 

It added that these people were “involved in terrorist activities against security forces, law enforcement agencies and locals of the area since 2009.” 

The militants used improvised explosive devices and indulged in target killings, kidnapping for ransom and extortion. 

The statement continued that the TTP members were also involved in recruiting young and impressionable minds, adding that security personnel recovered huge caches of arms from their hideouts. 


PM Khan asks Hafeez Shaikh to continue as finance minister after Senate defeat

Updated 06 March 2021

PM Khan asks Hafeez Shaikh to continue as finance minister after Senate defeat

  • The prime minister expresses his faith in Shaikh's professional abilities while praising him for shoring up the national economy
  • Shaikh can work in his current capacity until June, though the government may try again to get him elected to parliament

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan has told his close aide Abdul Hafeez Shaikh to continue working as finance minister after Shaikh lost a general seat from the federal capital to a joint opposition candidate in the recent Senate elections, local media reported on Saturday.
In a one-on-one meeting after securing the vote of confidence from parliament earlier in the day, Khan said he had complete faith in Shaikh's professional abilities and applauded him for shoring up the ailing national economy.
The ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) administration relied heavily on its finance minister to bring down the current account deficit and keep the financial system on track during the coronavirus pandemic.
After the Islamabad High Court ruled in a case in December that no special assistant or advisor to prime minister could chair or participate in cabinet committee meetings, Khan exercised his constitutional authority to elevate Shaikh as a federal minister for a period of six months.
According to Article 91 (9) of the Constitution, the finance minister cannot be reappointed to the same position as an unelected individual, and his defeat in the Senate election implies he may only be able to serve in his current capacity until June.
According to The Express Tribune, however, the government is likely to make one more effort to get him elected to the upper house of parliament by de-seating an opposition member, Ishaq Dar, who was elected to the Senate from Punjab in 2018 but did not take oath to the office.


In Barcelona, hugs and sea air for Pakistani-Spanish Covid ICU survivor

Updated 06 March 2021

In Barcelona, hugs and sea air for Pakistani-Spanish Covid ICU survivor

  • The 52-year-old moved to Spain from Pakistan three decades ago and has spent 48 days in ICU
  • The seaside reunion launched by Spanish hospital is meant to 'humanize' ICU stays for isolating COVID-19 patients

BARCELONA: After spending 48 days with Covid-19 in an intensive care unit in Barcelona, Ibrar Ahmed Iftikhar looked pleased to finally be out in the open.
On the Spanish city's seaside promenade his family, who had not seen him since he was admitted to hospital, greeted him with kisses, hugs and caresses.
The 52-year-old, who moved to Spain from Pakistan three decades ago, has a tube in his neck allowing him to breathe -- but preventing him from speaking. He responds to affection instead with smiles and moving his lips to try to pronounce words.
His wife holds his hand, while his brother and sister caress his face. His 18-year-old son Hussnain does not leave his side, carefully adjusting the bedsheets when the Mediterranean breeze cools the air.
"I have never been apart from my father for so long. We get along really well, we have a good connection and not seeing or talking to him for so many days has been hard," he said.
"We were waiting for a call from the doctor 24/7, seven days a week, to see what they said. My father has a very large family and we were all watching out for news."
Iftikhar was also able to see his sisters, mother and other relatives by video over a smartphone. He waved to them as they spoke.
The large white bed is surrounded by healthcare workers from the Hospital del Mar -- the Hospital of the Sea -- wearing white and green gowns.
The scene draws the attention of passers-by on the promenade which before the pandemic would have been packed with tourists.
The seaside reunion is part of a programme launched by the hospital to try to "humanise" ICU stays and "include the physical and emotional wellbeing of the patients," Judith Marin, an intensive care doctor with the hospital, said.
To take part in one of these outings, a patient must first test negative for Covid-19 and have made significant progress in their recovery.
Patients are monitored while outside and emergency resuscitation equipment is on hand in case it is needed.
The project was launched before the arrival of the coronavirus but the pandemic has made it even more necessary because of the strict isolation protocols Covid-19 patients must endure.
The hospital wants to expand the programme in the future to allow pets to visit patients in the ICU unit.
"It is not just about leaving the four walls of the ICU unit, but also doing it in a natural setting such as a seaside promenade and physically meeting with relatives," said Marin.