Pictures of three physically challenged Pakistani friends on a tour to Egypt are doing the rounds on social media. The three women are Tanzeela, Afshan and Zarghona. Tanzeela is from Lahore, Afshan hails from Peshawar and Zarghona lives in Quetta.

Talking to BBC Urdu, Tanzeela said that she is physically challenged since her childhood. She says, “I have no legs below the knees and I have been in a wheelchair all my life,” but so far she has travelled 20 countries in a wheelchair.

“I wanted to prove that a disabled girl doesn’t need anyone, she can be independent, she can make her own decisions,” she said talking about travelling alone.


 Tanzeela said, “Allah has created us all independent, but in our country, a differently-abled person is made dependant on others and he cannot go anywhere without the help of anyone, from restaurants to public washrooms.” She added that there are no facilities for physically challenged persons to go anywhere alone. They have to ask for someone’s help to go to the restaurants or public washrooms. There is no privacy and if there is no privacy, then your self-confidence is completely destroyed.

“I thought I would take a step forward and set an example for other people.”

The other friend, Afshan told BBC Urdu that 75 per cent of her body was paralysed because she was not vaccinated against polio when she was a child. Physiotherapy has made her healthy enough that she can now sit in a wheelchair.

Sharing her feelings about travelling alone, she said that women with disabilities are often looked upon with pity. “It is a common notion about them that they cannot go anywhere so I decided to show the world that when you have the courage, then nothing is impossible.”

Afshan said that we used to see girls travelling outside Pakistan but never saw anybody mentioning facilities provided to the physically challenged people who want to travel to other countries. “Nobody mentioned whether the conditions are the same in foreign countries as in Pakistan or better for people like us.”

Zarghona was seven months old when she contracted polio and was unable to walk.

“I have never travelled from Quetta to Islamabad or Karachi alone before this and I used to have some attendant with me. Even if I go somewhere in Quetta, I have to take someone with me,” she said.

This is her first trip alone. She has previously travelled with different groups to three countries. “I was very excited to see Tanzeela and Afshan and I dared to travel alone,” she added. “If they can travel alone, why can’t I?”