Brave-heart Jan

Tracing Irfan Ullah Jan’s journey from losing both his legs to establishing an organisation for persons with disabilities

Brave-heart Jan


Irfan Ullah Jan is a twenty-two-year-old BS political science student who belongs to Central Kurram – one of the less developed sub-divisions of the Kurram tribal district. Jan is a survivor of a bomb blast. On July 25, 2011, when Irfan was just ten years old, he was severely injured in a bomb blast in Sadda, Lower Kurram. He lost both his legs in the blast.

Over the last two decades, at least 800 people, including women and children, have been disabled in the seven tribal districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa as a result of terrorist violence.

After the tragic incident, Jan faced the challenges of living with a disability in an area with limited health facilities and access to education. To pursue education, he moved to Peshawar where he got admission in the Islamia Collegiate, one of the oldest schools in Peshawar.

During his student days, he became a prominent voice for the rights of disabled persons in Kurram. First he established the Kurram Union of Special Persons, with the aim of supporting victims of terrorism and special persons in the Kurram district to get an education.

Later on, with support from local elders, he campaigned for the rehabilitation and welfare of survivors of bomb blasts. The union started physical rehabilitation of those who had lost their arms and legs in such incidents. Soon, he realised the importance and need for an artificial limbs centre dedicated to Tribal Areas. With support from the Pakistan Army, Irfan established the first Artificial Limb Centre in Wana, South Waziristan – one of the areas affected by terrorism.

Irfan is now settled in Peshawar. To extend services to other tribal districts, he founded the FATA Disabled Welfare Organisation in 2015.

For over a decade, he has dedicated his services to victims of terrorism. He is also the recipient of the presidential award for Pride of Performance.

Talking to The News on Sunday, Irfan Ullah Jan says that 26 children, who were mostly injured in blasts, have been admitted at the Army Public and Federal Government Schools and some private institutions and are receiving scholarships. With help from some individual donors and the Social Welfare Department at least 6,000 people have been provided assistive devices.

“We have physically rehabilitated 1,039 people in the seven tribal districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Among them, there were 800 people who have been disabled due to the War on Terror. For bomb blast survivors needing those, we have provided artificial limbs,” Irfan says.

Irfan’s organisation has carried out a survey in the seven tribal districts to ensure access to all disabled persons in the newly merged districts. According to him, around 15,000 people have been registered as disabled persons. Among them, there are 4,000 women.

Irfan says that the actual number of differently abled persons in the merged districts is likely to be higher. He is coordinating with the NADRA and the Social Welfare Department to expedite the registration of all such individuals.

Irfan is working to establish a disability complex for persons with disabilities in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. He says it will have a physical rehabilitation centre, skills development centre, schools and playgrounds for PWDs.

The FDWO not only facilitates victims of terrorism in transplant of artificial limbs but also supports their education and well-being. “When someone gets hurt by unexploded ordnance, we expedite the payment of compensation by the relevant department,” Irfan says.

In 2021, nine-year-old Zia-ur-Rehman, from Spin-Wam area of North Waziristan, was on his way home from school when he stumbled upon a toy. When he picked it up, it exploded in his hand. Zia lost his hands in the tragic incident. It was very scary and painful for young Zia, but he did not lose heart. The FATA Disabled Welfare Organisation, with the support of Bioniks Company, provided Zia artificial hands.

Two years later, Zia is studying in fourth grade at Spin Wam. Khalil-ur Rehman, Zia’s brother, says, he has accidentally damaged his right Bionik hand. They are now looking for repairs.

Nazimullah, 22, from South Waziristan, lost his hand in a landmine explosion. With the support of Irfan Ullah Jan and other humanitarian organisations, he was provided with a prosthetic.

After the War on Terror, many accidents involving unexploded ordnance have been reported in the seven tribal districts. Last week, two children were killed and four injured in the Kurram district when a mortar shell they were playing with exploded.

In 2021, a petition was filed in the Peshawar High Court by Sajjad Ahmad Mehsud and four other lawyers on behalf of the people affected by landmine explosions in the tribal districts. The court was informed that security forces were extensively working on demining the area and removing unexploded ordnance, improvised explosive devices and toy bombs.

The writer is a freelance multimedia journalist. He tweets @daudpasaney

Brave-heart Jan