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My take on Elections 2013 (Part 2)

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By Farkhanda Qaiser

Before the results of elections started pouring out, many people were anticipating large scale change in the national political scenario. I believe, changes did appear but not as expected.

Congratulations on Voting!

Congratulations on Voting!

Change # 1: In Punjab and KPK:

PTI was foreseen to sweep the province of Punjab and replace PML N to a large extent. This may have been due to unexpectedly large turnouts at PTI rallies in the last few months. However as the election results proved, the ground realities were diametrically opposite. PTI failed to impress a large portion of the Punjabi electorate and PML N was able to maintain its stronghold in many of its constituencies. Good governance by the previous Punjab Government; well thought-out distribution of tickets among electoral candidates by PML N and beraadri setup in rural areas were some of the causes for the success of Sharif Brothers in the largest province of the country.

However PTI did manage to turn the tables in Khyber Pakhtunkhawa. ANP – which formed the preceding government in KPK – was almost if not completely wiped out from the political set up.  I think, gross blunders by ANP in the last few years took precedence over the revolutionary charm of PTI.

pak pie chart

Change # 2: In Sindh and Balochistan:

Even though PPP cried itself hoarse (via media campaigns) maligning its rival party i.e. PML N, it was unable to make its mark in the General Elections 2013. Whereas it had secured 50 seats from Punjab in National Assembly in 2008, it could only cling onto 1 seat this time around. This is the biggest revenge democracy could take! And every one of us, who voted in these elections, should pat themselves on the back for this huge reprisal of the ex-ruling party which was unable to deliver good governance and was rampantly corrupt. This is what happens to bad governments! Democracy rocks!

Nevertheless PPP was able to maintain its dominance in Sindh despite its dismal performance in power. This could be due to lack of alternative Sindhi political leaders; remnants of Bhutto-loyalists or jiyalas and emotional blackmailing of illiterates. Yet credit is also due to some PPP politicians like Dr. Fehmida Mirza who kept constantly in touch with locals of her constituency during her last tenure. Sometimes it’s very easy to please the simpletons of our country. All they require is the satisfaction that their leader visits them once every often and has not forgotten them. These voters are not concerned with the bigger picture of democracy, corruption, law and order situation or foreign relations. Hence, the slogan roti, kapra, makaan was engineered for these very commoners and was very popular.

The ruling powers also did not change in Karachi and Hyderabad. These are the citadels of MQM which it managed to keep under its control. Massive coverage was given on media channels regarding rigging in Karachi. Such was the hue and cry that ECP was forced to take action. Now it has been announced that re-polling would be conducted in 43 polling stations of NA-250 (of Karachi) within 10 days. This decision should be applauded as it would clear many doubts about the transparency of the elections 2013.

As far as Balochistan is concerned, no single party has emerged as a clear winner so it is still unclear that who will form the government in this province.

Change # 3: Comparatively Free and Fair Elections:

After the announcement of election results, protests erupted all over the country. These protesters complained of widespread rigging in the elections. Most of them belonged to the parties of PTI, MQM and JI. Lahore (particularly NA-125 where Hamid Khan of PTI lost to Khawaja Saad Rafique of PML N), Karachi, Hyderabad, Jacobabad, Jhang and some areas of Balochistan are believed to be the shady areas of rigging.

fafen

During these processions, there have also been skirmishes between supporters of rival political parties. This is very sad and is highly reminiscent of the politics of 90’s when PML N and PPP were at each others’ necks. Therefore, I appeal to these educated elite of Pakistan not to indulge in such lowly activities. This country can’t afford any more political brawls. There is a dire need to start solving the problems with political consensus. A healthy opposition would serve as a watchdog so now is the time to move on. Get over the election results and celebrate the day that was!

However, having said that, there is no denying the fact that rigging did take place. According to an independent body called Free and Fair Election Network (FAFEN), there are clear evidences that elections in 49 polling stations (out of the 8000 observed by them) were rigged. This comes out to be a mere 0.6125 %…!  Well yes, rigging is bad but we must appreciate the fact that we’re living in a third-world country whose dictatorial history is longer than that of democracy. Our institutions are still young and inexperienced. These irregularities are due to mismanagement of the staff of ECP and not due to their ill-will. We should try to resolve the issues according to law. In this regard, PTI’s petition in Supreme Court is a welcome step. True, street politics is powerful and heady but we shouldn’t get carried away if there are alternatives. Other than rectifying the gross irregularities, the losing parties should accept defeat and congratulate the winners. This would create the much needed good will after the mudslinging during the elections!

 Change # 4: International Image:

After witnessing greater than 60% turnout in the General Elections 2013, I was sure that International community would no longer think of us as illiterate savages fit for dictatorship only. After all, these elections were the triumph not only of Pakistan but also of democracy. However the post-election protests and blame games are dampening the mood in the country and this is not a good omen for the successive 5 years. It is highly imperative for leadership of political parties to let by gone be gone and instruct their political workers to calm down. I’m hopeful that these good-will gestures will come one day. (Indeed, PTI will prove to be different than PPP and PML N of 90’s inshaAllah). Better late than never!

Change # 5: Democracy is the best revenge:

If nothing else, these elections have definitely fortified my belief in democracy.

Who would've thought that  tables would turn so violently?!

Who would’ve thought that tables would turn so violently?!

Democracy ensures that corrupt and bad politicians are one day shooed out of the parliament if they don’t mend their ways!

Abbreviations: PTI = Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf, PML-N = Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz, ANP = Awami National Party, KPK = Khyber Pakhtunkhawa, PPP = Pakistan Peoples’ Party, MQM = Muttahida Qaumi Movement, ECP = Election Commission of Pakistan, JI = Jamaat-e-Islaami, FAFEN = Free and Fair Election Network.

My take on Elections 2013 (Part 1)

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By Farkhanda Qaiser 

A day to cherish,

A day to celebrate,

And most importantly, a day to ponder upon…

Yes, I’m talking about 11th May 2013General Elections Day in Pakistan.

For the first time in the short history of this country, young and old; rich and poor; educated and illiterate; healthy and disabled; normal and 3rd gender all headed towards the polling stations to cast their precious votes. Some enthusiastic first-time-voters reached even before polling started. Such was the excitement in the air that if it could be transformed into electrical volts, it would’ve been enough to run an entire garments factory for a year at least…! Unified exhilaration like this is only seen on huge cricket victories by the men in green. But NEVER in the past have people been so thrilled about the process of electing their representatives.

So what was the rationale for this unprecedented election fever?

Many observers believe that it was the Pakistan Tehreek e Insaf (PTI) factor which pushed the voters out of their houses – Voters who believed that their votes could bring a much needed change in a repeatedly-plundered country. Whereas PTI might have been a huge reason but I believe this wasn’t the only one.

Bat - Election Symbol of PTI

Bat – Election Symbol of PTI

       The journey of change has been slow but steady. It began with the freedom of media and the         mushrooming of dozens of news channels on the cable network. Being a novice at first, media also made many mistakes (read sensationalism) but its largest service was awareness among the masses. Moreover, the 2007 lawyers’ movement served to mobilize the sleeping nation which rose up quite forcefully to the challenge. This is when the common man realized the power of street politics. Hefty words like supremacy of constitution and rule of law became part of local jargon. With the restoration of Chief Justice of Pakistan in 2009, various other bodies (like doctors, paramedical staff, teachers etc) also took to the streets to fight for their rights. Thus a culture of ‘change’ evolved within the society. Governments mended their ways at the outcry of the public. This in itself was a huge achievement for the battered citizens of a third-world country.

Then came the year 2013. The Election Year. People believed in democracy despite all its weaknesses. They understood that Pakistan is still a sapling (where democracy is concerned) whose growth has been stunted by dark oppressive powers for too long but not anymore. Now it has the free air to breathe, fresh rainwater and nutrients to grow and most importantly uninterrupted space to spread its roots both in depth and length. And this I believe is the reason for the large turnout of these elections.

A PML-N rally with their election symbol – Lion

Not only was the turnout huge but the excitement was tangible too. People thronged the roads with the colorful flags and symbols of different political parties. Party affiliation differed even within families. In Punjab, youth and women sided mostly with PTI and men with PML N. These voters persevered despite the intensely hot weather. Some polling stations had no shade or facilities of drinking water but no word of complaint was heard. In fact, in a few residential areas of Karachi where polling was delayed due to technical reasons, inhabitants of nearby houses provided water to the voters standing in long lines! This was the level of camaraderie and sportsman spirit among the people. I even overheard people saying, “Aaj tu Eid ka din lag raha hai…” Perhaps, festivities of Election Day were greater than that of Eid because they were visible on a greater scale – all over the country on the same day! Hamari tu Eid bi ek din nai hoti, lekin election tu ek din ee hua na…!

Furthermore, as soon as I logged onto facebook after having cast my vote, I was overwhelmed by pictures of Stamp-marked-thumbs and statuses regarding ‘Naya Pakistan.’ At first, I couldn’t stop laughing at the pictures of thumbs of all sizes some hairy and others non hairy. But then I regretted not having taken a similar picture – not to put up as a facebook DP (no thank you :p) but as a memory of my first ever vote!

Facebook display picture

However, one thing is for sure – 180 million people of Pakistan would never forget this day in their lives. This includes both the fortunate voters and unfortunate non-voters. An interesting incident in this regard was the bridegroom in Multan who cast his vote with his entire barat. That would’ve definitely made a very interesting DP – Dulha with the ballot box!

Nevertheless, the turnout for these elections could have been even greater, had the Election Commission of Pakistan taken a few more steps. Firstly, the idea of postal ballots should have been advertised more. Its last day was 25th April which slipped by quietly. By and large, people didn’t even know about it. Secondly, a lot of voters were registered in their hometowns where they no longer lived. Consequently they missed the opportunity to vote. Either the text-message service (to find out the location of polling station) should’ve been initiated earlier or the ECP should’ve confirmed the voters’ lists and their present addresses.

In addition, President Zardari should have passed the Ordinance for Overseas voters on time. Perhaps this delay was intentional because everyone knows that majority of Overseas Pakistanis whole heartedly support PTI.

Before the results of elections started pouring out, many people were anticipating large scale change in the national political scenario.

 (to be continued…)

Of Humair Ishtiaq, Yasir Pirzada and 50 Minute

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Lying forgotten in the myriad of folders was this blog, which i’m finally publishing….

Today, Sunday September 4th, 2011, Humair Ishtiaq and Yasir Pirzada did what 50 minute hadn’t been able to do. And that is, compelled me to write a blog about the Pakistani Youth. Well yes, I can understand your confusion about the title but all will unfold as this article progresses.

Three oft-repeated statements,

 “Percentage of youth in Pakistan is an astounding 63%…!”

“Pakistan is full of talent.”

“Now the future of Pakistan lies in the hands of the youth…!”

These statements fill us with content that all is not lost and somehow, someone somewhere will brandish a magic wand and fix all the problems of Pakistan and that someone will definitely be from among the talented youth of Pakistan!

Aaah if only wishes could come true!

Muhammad Amir

English: Ali Moeen Nawazish's portrait while s...

English: Ali Moeen Nawazish’s portrait while sitting in living room. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Now, let’s talk about the huge chunk of our 170 million population: The youth. There was a time when this 63% brought a huge smile on my face and my eyes shone with pride and hope. I always thought about Ali Moeen Nawazish and his great 23 As feat. I recounted with joy how Muhammad Amir was making world records at only 17. Not to forget those young singers performing brilliantly in Indian Singing shows: Sara Raza Khan and Shujat Ali Khan to name a few. These names popped in my mind because I recently attended the Eid special show of 50 minute where the above mentioned sang beautifully and literally won me over. Anyhow the point was that thinking about all the talent that our youth has and then the 63% figure, I was always hopeful until I read the following piece by Humair Ishtiaq in today’s Sunday magazine,

“On the global list of median age, there are 55 countries that have a population even younger than that of Pakistan. As many as 46 of them happen to be African. Among the remaining 9, there are four each in the Middle East and Latin America in addition to Afghanistan.

If youth on it own could do much, Uganda should have been the current superpower of the world for the median age of its population is merely 15 years. And, for good measure, it would have faced tough competition coming from Niger and Mali which have corresponding figures of 15.2 and 15.8 years. But they are economic and political non-entities. Because they are unable to educate the young, who then find it convenient to spend time in the wilderness of a lawless existence. We are naturally, much better off than these ill-fated countries, but if downwards is our only direction, it is only a matter of time when we may get bracketed together.”

An eye opener sure it was. Nations prosper because they possess certain traits like a sense of social responsibility and conscience not because of the high percentage of directionless youth that it has!

Nations prosper because of the calm and dignity that they possess even when faced with crisis whether in the form of natural disasters or economic depressions. China refused to take any foreign aid after the massive earthquake which left thousands dead and millions displaced. Similarly after being shaken by a 9.2 magnitude earthquake, the Japanese displayed immense calm and composure. On the contrary what do we see in Pakistan? Billions flowing in as aid, corruption in millions and so all are unhappy with the government. Media does the emotional reporting and increases its ratings. No doubt, a lot of Pakistanis come forward to help the victims but for how long? The intial few weeks, there’s the hustle and bustle of activity but then the poor people are left to fend for their own. Where are we erring? The successive earthquakes and floods have taught us nothing. We are back to point zero after every such calamity.

Nations prosper because of their ability and training to face hardships. Nations learn from their past mistakes. Have we ever done that? No lessons taken at all from either the military dictatorships or the feeble democracies. No increase in education budgets at the cost of defense. Why are we not learning that education is the solution of all problems? Quality education at all levels will give us insightful leaders and politicians. It will eradicate the menace of poverty and terrorism. It will create awareness among people about their rights and duties. It will create an atmosphere of tolerance where people are not prosecuted against on religious or ethnic basis as is now happening in Pakistan.

And most importantly, it will decrease unemployment and the associated crime rate because meaningful education teaches you the skill to make a living even with no investment at all. (This may sound very foolish, but I have examples where the creative mind was more than enough to create employment opportunities. More on that later). So the bottomline is that we must train ourselves to join the rank of the developed countries and not just say empty slogans. It’s said a slogan kills thinking for 30 years so we must not spend the next 30 years saying that our youth is talented and so Pakistan will get fixed itself overnight when this youth comes to power! Instead we must take positive steps to bring a change!

Nations prosper because of their grace and order. You must’ve met that English babu who went abroad in the 60s and 70s to earn bread and butter but has returned to Pakistan after his retirement. All his sentences begin with, “When I was in England…” and then there’s a long list of virtues that the English possess. They make queues. They consider honking rude. They don’t litter in public places and neither do they let anyone else litter. They follow the traffic rules. They are punctual. Their Police is not corrupt. Their democracy is transparent. Their leaders are accountable and so on and so forth. However that same English babu, when in Pakistan would take pride in deliberately throwing that used tissue paper out of the moving car; he would make sure that he never stops at any traffic lights. Why? Because this is home sweet home. Nobody here, follows rules so why should he? Besides what difference would it make if one person paid the taxes? There are a million others who simply waive them and several million who do corruption with the revenue generated. We are a nation with a dead conscience. We pride in breaking rules and then boast of our not-so-holy deeds. How easy it is for our Interior Minister to say, the situation in Balochistan is not as bad as that of Karachi. Only a few people die or go missing everyday in the former whereas the latter has become a battlefield. What a comparison to give?! We listen blandly to news of deaths, suicide attacks, abductions and bomb blasts and then switch the channel saying, ‘That’s nothing new.’ Excessive and in-depth reporting has made us insensitive.

Then what’s the solution? We need to step up to the challenges at hand. There’s a dire need for awareness among the entire population about the importance of social responsibility. We must stop the blame game specifically blaming the government for all ills because, bitter as it may sound, we are an equal party in the gloomy, dismal condition of our beloved country. We as citizens of the state have certain duties which we are not fulfilling at all. How many of us have ever taken part in community service? Picking up that garbage pile outside our houses; shoveling away water after heavy rains; teaching poor children for free; joining social welfare organizations without the tag of an ‘internship’; helping the poor in long term sustainable ways rather than the short term charity ( teaching people how to catch the fish rather than buying them fishes everyday ); spreading the message of peace and love through our writings, debates, discussions or whichever platform we have; sponsoring children for quality education and there are countless other ways to make a difference. The question arises, are we willing to do so? And then the long list of excuses starts…

YLC Saga – Khamoshi ka Boycott – Day 2 (PART 2)

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This post was published in KELLOGS on 13/7/2011.

By Farkhanda Qaiser
We were still bubbling with the excitement of our success when breakout sessions on the many causes and implications of environmental degradation, were announced. I chose the session by Nigaar Nazar – the first Muslim woman cartoonist. Her central character is Gogi which she uses to create awareness among general public on various social and environmental issues. For this reason she has been placed on top of a list prepared by USA’s Cartoonist Rights Network. She has also done comic strips for many journals and television channels. However her work doesn’t stop here. Now, she has started an outreach programme which involves distributing the Gogi school bag among underprivileged students. This bag contains a collection of storybooks and comic strips with morals, made by her and targeting the young ones. One of her books is titled, ‘Kooray ka jin’ which emphasizes upon the importance of cleanliness. Another one deals with the threat of extremism and terrorism. Oh we should keep our children away from this nonsense, you may exclaim. But the fact of the matter is that we’re doing them more harm than good by keeping them unaware of the ground realities. They already see news of bomb blasts and suicide attacks on their idiot box everyday. Infact some of them have been direct affectees of these terror attacks too. So their education is necessary to ensure that they are not brainwashed too some day.
This was the session during which I realized the difference between a trainer and an expert. Mrs. Nigaar Nazar was an expert in her field but she was no speaker who’d know how to control the rowdy group of teenagers sitting before her. She was taking pains to explain her project while some people were simply mocking her and her work. This is our general attitude to change. We resist change and people who talk about change unless they are accomplished speakers like Umair Jaliawala and Kamran Rizvi who know how to tackle the crowd. However this must change too. We must learn to respect people for their work irrespective of the fact whether they can speak about it too. No doubt public speaking is an art which all should master. But we have no right to deride one who can not do so.
Next up was a session by Dr. Nadeem Abidi, an anesthetist and a Success Coach. He was speaking on different levels of leadership. From the dependent stage to the blame game and finally to the ‘Main hoon na’ level – where you take responsibility for everything you do and people depend on you to get a work done. Mr. Abidi then explained us a Cash flow quadrant which since then, I’ve explained to a lot of people because I found it highly helpful. Here it is:
E
Employee
B
Business Owner
S
Self employed
I
Investor
Most people never come out of the left side of the quadrant. Either they don’t take direct control of their lives or they never utilize their maximum potential, and thus the unemployment that we decry. For this we may even blame our education system which encourages people to Ace in order to land a good job. But we have to ascend to a higher level of leadership. Being anemployee means you have a job. Being self employed means you own a job. You have not more than 500 people working for you. You are a perfectionist and so are in direct contact with every single employee of yours even if it be a chowkidaar. Your employees are always less capable than you and you instruct them about each and every thing they do. This takes up a lot of time and so reduces the efficiency of the system. Moreover you are also working till late hours and so have less time for your family too. It involves 90 % people and earns 10 % money. On the other hand, the right side of the quadrant is for the people who are empowered. Business owners are people hunters. They choose the best talent to work under them. An excellent example is Bill Gates who dropped out of graduate school and now the best of the best work for his company, Microsoft. However freedom is achieved when a person becomes an investor, which involves a high degree of risk but at the same time, has great rewards too. The investor has assets which are earning money without requiring his presence. Now its 10 % manpower and 90 % money. So the choice is yours.
Mr. Nadeem Abidi has introduced a “Millionaire Mentorship Programme” for the people who wish to move to the right side of the quadrant. He was kind enough to offer this programme for free to the YLCians 2011. We really hope that more people can avail this opportunity and improve their lives for the better.
After that Mr. Abidi gave us all a power nap, while he talked to our hearts. Sleepy we were already so didn’t need much compulsion to go to sleep. Surprisingly, when he gave us all a wake up call a few minutes later, we awoke with a new vigor and without any signs of fatigue at all. I’d really like to know what he did to us. He was just talking slowly and without making much sense but we sure were refreshed after that. Then comes the best part of the session – the part that gave me conviction that I can do anything once I set my mind to it. This is what we said,
Ø Now I am the voice
Ø I will lead not follow
Ø I will believe not doubt
Ø I will create not destroy
Ø I am a force for Good
Ø I am a leader
Ø Defy the odds
Ø Set up a new standard
STEP UP…!
And say it we did. We kept saying it out louder and louder till we were convinced that we could do it. Mr. Abidi demonstrated the power of the mind and words by a simple activity. He called up a person on stage and asked him to say, “I will try to obey my parents,” while raising his one arm against force. His force was certainly lesser than when he said, “I will obey my parents.” So just by a play of words, our mind is convinced that we can or we can not do something. This is the power of the mind!
And so a great session ended. I emerged from it a completely different person and thirsting for more.
After that there was yet another activity planned by djuice. I call it the ‘Zipped up’ activity. As 2 members from every team were taken aside and their mouths were taped up. Then we teased them endlessly and tested their patience while they could not say a word about it. This enabled us to understand the helplessness that people feel when they are unable to voice their words.
However the Green day had not yet ended. We were in for still more surprises when we were told that we’d be setting up our dinner ourselves. Every team was given its own task. Some had to set up tables and dishes in thelawn. Others had to clean up after the dinner. Still others had to go around giving massages to people. But the dinner itself was very unique. It was the manifestation of a langar. There were neither any chairs or plates nor many varieties of food that we normally got at Sheraton. We were given spare newspapers in which we kept our rotis and spread daal on top of it and so ate like our poor brethren who are given free langar at darbars. It was a very spiritual experience and provoked us all to ponder over our extravagant lives and those of the less fortunate.
As djuice is a major sponsor of YLC so we performed yet another activity for Khamoshi ka boycott. Each team made 3-4 minutes plays highlighting any social aspect which needs to be corrected like traffic jams, the menace of dowry, smoking etc.
And finally we moved to the last session of the day which was by Sohail Zandani – another famous name in the training world. He had a unique style in which he asked questions and incited people to speak up. He believed in love for all and respect and appreciation for others. Further he advised us to stay hungry and stay foolish, which meant that always be eager to learn. He has established a Learning mind group for people who want to groom their personalities.

Thus the second day of YLC came to an end. Keep tuned in for more updates.

YOUNG LEADERS’ CONFERENCE – a lifetime experience – DAY 1

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This post was published in KELLOGS on 9/7/2011

By Farkhanda Qaiser

Dates: 1st-6th July 2011

Venue: Sheraton Hotel, Karachi

 

DAY 1:

10:00 AM – Departure from Lahore.

11:45 AM – Arrival in Karachi.

1:00 PM – Arrival at Sheraton Hotel

2:00 PM – Lunch

4:00 PM – Official inauguration of YLC

5:30 PM – Informal session with corporate champions

6:15 PM – Asar Namaz

6:30 PM – Rules of the game – align everyone to the YLC way. (By Kambha)

7:30 PM – Maghrib Namaz

8:30 PM – Bank Alfalah – the caring dinner.

9:00 PM – Theatre Performance.

10:00 PM – Isha Namaz

10:30 PM – Quiz regarding stay in Sheraton.

11:30 PM – Putting I first (by Kambha)

1:00 AM – Treasure hunt (by Umair Jaliawala) team names n slogans.

 

“Emaan, Ittehad, Tanzeem…Inqilaab” This was the slogan of the 10th YLC 2011, being held at Sheraton Hotel, Karachi. It made little sense to me until we learned to live by these words in the 6 days of our stay at YLC. We were given seemingly impossible tasks like 20 people standing on 4 chairs, having dinner with our hands and feet tied and eyes blindfolded but we emerged successful every time because we had faith in ourselves; we stood united and last but not the least we were disciplined. Through this famous quotation of Quaid-e-Azam, we hoped to bring revolution in Pakistan. Not a bloody revolution but a revolution in the mindset of people which is indeed the biggest and the most long-lasting revolution there could ever be.

On day 1, this concept was explained to us by the YLC champs, Maalik Khaskhley, Bilal Nazar Sibtain and Namreen Akhter Syed – the trio who had made this entire conference possible. Their conviction about bringing back life to these words really moved me. The motivation had been awakened but the courage was still missing which came gradually. All the 363 participants from 34 cities of Pakistan and a few foreigners were given these green YLC shirts having the YLC slogan. We had to wear these shirts 24/7 excluding the nap time which had been reduced to an average 4-5 hours. At first, I had been disgruntled to hear this. I mean, seriously, what about all those lavish dresses that I had carried from Lahore? When would I wear them? A lot of girls shared my feelings. But slowly, we understood the logic behind this too. Wherever we went in Sheraton Hotel, we were identified by the YLC shirts. People staying in Sheraton were raising eyebrows and were curious to know this vibrant group of youngsters and what they were upto! Moreover wearing the same shirts, carrying the same YLC bags and the YLC dairies, we felt united and part of the same family. So ‘ek teer se do shikaar,’ as we were spreading awareness of our purpose and also experiencing a feeling of camaraderie thanks to a common uniform.

After that we were introduced to the sponsors of the event as well as of the students. As the registration fee had been Rs. 39,900 therefore majority of the participants had been sponsored by brand names and companies like Bank Alfalah, Djuice, NBP, EBM, Dawn in Education, Mobilink etc. I had been sponsored by Qavi Engineering for which I’m particularly grateful to Mr. Arshad dad, the CEO for making it possible for me to attend such an amazing conference…! We also held an informal session with these corporate champions in which we asked them probing questions regarding their success and how we could achieve it too. Moreover it was very encouraging to see that these organizations were fulfilling their social responsibility by helping out the youth and enabling them to tap their leadership potential.

To make this ‘leadership event’ more potent, the participants had been divided into teams consisting of 20 members each and headed by a Youth Facilitator (YF). Each team was identified by a scarf of a certain color. My team color was Rust Sussi and my YF was this cute little guy, Asad Chohan. He may have been short but he talked big and we were all really impressed by his leadership skills. Later on, we devised our own team name which was ‘Inqalaabi Pataakha.’

Having been teamed up and introduced to the major players at YLC, now was the right time for the entry of ‘the great Kambha!’ He is the founding director of ‘School of Leadership’ and is also the director of Navitus*. He has a way with words and can mesmerize any audience. He believes in PPRR to initiate any task.

P = Practical

P = Possible

R = Realistic

R = Relevant

For those of you who are still confused about his name, let me elaborate by saying that Kambha is short for Kamran Bhai as his name is Kamran Rizvi. He has also authored a few books, one of which he was kind enough to gift us autographed and for free! The name of the book is ‘Reinvent Yourself’ and I haven’t yet started reading it but judging from all the sessions that we had with him, I can bet that it’ll be an ‘eye opening’ read for sure…!

“Use you Ara to build relationships,” we were told. You see, a lot of acronyms are used in the world of motivational speakers and trainers. Ara is one such acronym which stands for Acknowledge, respect and appreciation. I saw the YLC team practicing this Ara and was also inspired to follow suit. I learnt to acknowledge people for the little favors they may have done for me then to respect them for who they are and lastly to appreciate anyone and everyone for their good deeds. These deeds could also include asking an interesting question after a session, making the right comment or mini speech or even citing verses of poetry (one brother from Peshawar always had an appropriate Urdu sher to recite after every session)

Another equation that we learnt was H + R = Love. The combination of honesty and respect always leads to love. If you respect someone and are honest about it then he will start loving you as a person. Mind you, this is not the “Indian Movie romance” that we are talking about. It’s the love of each other as human beings or rather spiritual beings having a human experience.

However our learning experience had not yet ended. We were told the rules for stay in Sheraton in a quiz form. At first, I thought this an absurd exercise but the wisdom was revealed when most of the participants seemed to be making the wrong choices regarding keeping valuables in the YLC bag or the suitcase back in the hotel room; having the bed sheets and towels changed everyday or on alternate days and more such questions and answers.

And then finally came the time for me to don the sari that I’d especially taken along for this occasion – the formal dinner when the girls wore saris, shalwar kameez etc. and the boys wore their suits. This dinner had been sponsored by Bank Alfalah – the Caring Bank. After that, a group of theatre artists put up a great show in which they highlighted the major problems of Pakistan in a satirical yet comical way. Issues like loadshedding, insensitivity of public towards national tribulations, immense viewership of Indian soaps as well as bad direction and production of Punjabi movies and what not…! It was definitely a great laugh and a food for thought. This theatre group is known by the name of “Zahrsss” and also has its fan page on facebook. I’d definitely recommend everyone to like this page because this was one very talented group of people. Amazing acting, great direction and innovative production, they had it all…! Hats off Zahrsss!

However this long day seemed to be having no end at all…! We were all immensely tired as most of us were up since sunrise to catch our early morning flights. And now it was past midnight. Yet one session still remained. Groans all around, sleepyheads and painful body parts…but all this was changed by a magician and wise wizard. Yes, none other than Umair Jaliawala…! The crowd roared with enthusiasm to welcome this great man. I simply could not understand why as I had not even heard of him before. But all the confusion sorted itself out as pearls of wisdom and motivation came forth from the mouth of UJ. He is a trainer by passion, an entrepreneur by profession and a social worker by persistence*. He gave us all a wake up call by a treasure hunt which included finding crazy things like X men, a knife, red rose, atm receipt, discount card etc. And also making videos of a cat fight, a human tower of 3 steps, YLC written by human bodies and a picture of each team flying in air. After having done all these activities, we were miles far from sleep but at 2:00 AM, the time had finally come for us to collapse on our beds after a long, long day. The Day 1 of YLC 2011 had ended. But it had given us hope to look forward to extremely busy yet interactive and fun-filled days ahead.