islamabad - Muhammad Yasir Khan (31), hailing from district Poonch of Azad Jammu and Kashmir, has been suffering from a progressive disease called Spinal Muscular Atrophy type-3. He has been on the wheelchair since 2004-05. Yasir is the chairman of Islamabad-based “Strive Trust” which works for the welfare of disabled persons. He believes that creation of jobs, Special Cards, jobs quota, and special treatment in public places cannot change the life of a handicapped person. It is rather rehabilitation and eradication of the disability that can change their life and for that purpose, he believes, artificial intelligence is of vital importance. The Nation conducted a Question-Answer session with Yasir to know how he hopes to achieve his objectives.

Q1) How is life before and after disability?

A: I have been on a wheelchair since 2004-05 but I never accepted defeat. There were difficulties in my life yet I tried to overcome them because I saw hope. For many, life after disability is nothing more than a liability but I took my disability as a challenge. I see no change in my life except that now I cannot run, or play football. But my determination is the same as it was before disability. I have been on a wheelchair since many years but there has never been a day when my condition became an obstacle in achieving my objectives.

Q2) What is your plan for helping those who cannot move freely?

A: We got “Strive Trust” registered under the Trust Act in 2010. With the help of volunteers and supporters, we are operating Ibn-e-Sina Physiotherapy and Rehabilitation Centre in Islamabad where those who can afford to pay are treated against a concessional fee while the poor are provided free of cost treatment. The disabled need life-time treatment and therapy and our organization is a hope for the people who cannot afford the fees. So far we have been a helping hand for more than 10,000 people. We arrange funds with the help of rich but our Trust needs resources and supervision from the government to become a people-serving platform.    

Q3) Do you think marriage for a disabled person is a liability?

A: Disability has been one of the many reasons that I did not marry. When you are married you have to take responsibility of a life partner and I did not want to financially burden my family by doing that.  Secondly, starting a new family might become a hindrance in accomplishment of my future goals. Right now, I am not dependent on anyone. I have done small businesses to earn my livelihood without support of parents.

Q4) Do you think you are going in the right direction to achieve your objectives?

A: Yes, the direction is very clear. I am confident despite the fact I don’t have resources and like-minded people. I would say that I could not find like-minded people for the change which the people don’t want, frankly. You would be surprised to know that people here have no interest in change. They just want to pass their day as they have been passing since years. Had I the resources and support of like-minded people, I could have advanced my vision for eradication of disability, especially through artificial intelligence.  

Q5) How can artificial intelligence help in eradication of disability?

A: Disability can be eradicated through technology, not through rehabilitation. Other parts of the world have started using artificial intelligence and I believe that by 2025, artificial intelligence will dominate human intelligence in every field. Renowned pharmaceutical companies are now depending on artificial intelligence. The role of humans would be limited in the years to come as robots will take their place. The jobs will diminish due to this technology. I was surprised to know that in China a robot has passed a medical exam. Through artificial intelligence, we can intensify our efforts for eradication of disability and that is what I want to be practiced in Pakistan also. I want artificial intelligence used in medical care so that lives of the disabled could be eased.