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Posts Tagged Pakistan Shining

ALL IS NOT LOST IN PAKISTAN By Tariq A. Al Maeena, Special to Gulf News

Mustaqbil Pakistan is one of the many NGOs set up by selfless Pakistanis who have taken it upon themselves to contribute to some form of stability and productivity within their society



All is not lost in Pakistan


By Tariq A. Al Maeena, Special to Gulf News


16:54 January 2, 2017


All is not lost in Pakistan
Image Credit:Niño Jose Heredia/©Gulf News

With all the seemingly bad news emanating from Pakistan, a reader would not be faulted into imagining a scenario of doom for that country. Beleaguered as it has been since its involvement in the conflict following the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the country has faced internal strife of great proportions that threatened to dismantle Pakistan.

It has, however, withstood great challenges and while not on pace with other countries, it still manages to plod on. From a low in 2009, Pakistan has shown a modest yet progressive increase in GNP for the past six years. Part of the reason could be attributed to selfless Pakistanis who have taken it upon themselves and formed NGOs which contribute to some form of stability and productivity within their society.

One such NGO that has been making steady inroads at the grassroots level is Mustaqbil Pakistan. The organization was formed in 2010 as a new political party whose primary objective was to bring about a fundamental change in the way politics is conducted in Pakistan.

Speaking at its launch, the party chairman Nadeem Mumtaz Qureshi minced no words saying, “We are living through what is possibly one of the most dangerous periods in our history. Our very existence as a sovereign state is threatened. At a time like this, it is imperative that all of us who have something positive to offer come together as one in defense of our homeland. And you, as leaders and moulders of public opinion, have a vital role to play.”










Qureshi then lamented the deteriorating conditions at the time. Insurgency and military conflict in two of the country’s provinces, killings and abductions of civilians in many cities, unemployment, hopelessness, desperation, suicides and a shocking absence of the writ of the government. He was then very direct as to the root of the problem.

“In Pakistan, the worst, most incompetent, most corrupt, most morally bankrupt, and most insincere of our people compete in our political arena. These people — in some sense the scum of our society — are elected to our parliament and shape our destiny. Why then should anyone of us be surprised that Pakistan is slowly crumbling? And, let’s be clear if this ‘scum’ continues to come back in power time and again — as it has done during the democratic phases of our history — then Pakistan will not survive.”

The party’s aim has been to bring decent, competent, sincere and honest Pakistanis into politics. This segment of the population was previously unwilling or unable to participate in politics. Their absence had created a political vacuum which according to Qureshi had been happily filled by the ‘scum’, the reason was given for the sorry state the country was in then.

Qureshi’s first thrust was to reach out to the media for support. To convince Pakistanis that they had it in their power to change their destiny, he challenged the media to tell it like it was.

“I am writing to you — eminent editors and producers in the print and broadcast media — to tell you that you have a crucial role to play. What you are doing today is not enough. The media broadcasts hours and hours of output featuring the ‘usual culprits’: our corrupt and incompetent politicians. Your smug anchors find gratification in having these already challenged people utter inanities and spew venom on their equally inane rivals. And what service do you render the people of Pakistan in broadcasting these programs hour after hour, evening after evening, day after day? Have you enlightened them? Have you informed them? Have you given them hope?”

Challenging the media to be more forthright, Qureshi continued, “Ladies and gentlemen you have to rise above all of this. Time is running out for Pakistan. Too much is at stake. You cannot continue to behave like this. There are people, here, today, now, working to change things. You need to identify them and then present them to your readers and viewers. You need to show Pakistanis that there is hope. And that there are still people who, sometimes at the risk of their safety, are working day and night to make Pakistan’s future brighter than its past. There are many, many, good, decent, sincere and competent Pakistanis working to bring change. They also deserve a chance to be heard. And you should let their ideas and agenda be heard.”

Realizing that to fight corruption in politics, one must first clean house from inside, the party since its inception has been working tirelessly and without any government support in introducing new faces in the country’s Provincial and National Assembly. They have been spreading their message in towns and villages and lending support wherever possible to make lives better.

At the time the party was formed, Qureshi had exhorted, “Rome is burning. You can continue to fiddle. Or you can pick up a bucket and join those of us who want to do more.”

It seems many Pakistanis have picked up on his message to set their country’s path to recovery.

— Tariq A. Al Maeena is a Saudi socio-political commentator. He lives in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. You can follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/@talmaeena


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Pakistan Think Tank Organization Thanks, Brother Tariq A.Al Maeena


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THE NIGHT OF OUR TRIALS COMING TO AN END: Pakistan: The Next Colombia Success Story?









Pakistan: The Next Colombia Success Story?

Pakistan has the potential to be a global turnaround story. I recently spent time in-country listening to a wide range of perspectives and I am convinced that U.S. policymakers and business leaders need to look at Pakistan beyond the security lens. Getting our relationship right will require deeper thinking and action on issues around trade and investment, education, and broader economic development. The United States ought to be Pakistan’s preferred partner given its 70-year relationship. But in order to participate in the upside of the Pakistan story, the United States will need to view Pakistan not as a problem to be solved but as a potential partner. There are several changes that suggest the United States should soon act on this opportunity.

Daniel Runde

Pakistan Think Tank & its Members Thank Mr.Daniel Runde to See the Potential in the People & Nation of Pakistan


I cover the opportunities for the US coming from the developing world.full bio →


The Pakistan of today is similar to that of Colombia in the late 1990s. Back then, words like “drugs, gangs, and failed state” were freely associated with the Andean country. Today, Colombia has a free trade agreement with the United States, a stable 3.5 percent annual GDP growth, and security is vastly improved. Similarly, Western headlines on Pakistan today gloss over the progress on the security front, the increased political stability, and incremental progress on the economic front. In spite of this potential for Pakistan, it continues to suffer from a terrible country brand that has not caught up with realities on the ground.

Action Against the Taliban

Pakistan’s improving security dynamic is the first change to note. It is hard to understate the before-and-after effects of the Taliban’s horrendous December 2014 attack on a military-owned elementary school in Peshawar that killed 145 people, including 132 schoolchildren aged eight to eighteen. Almost immediately after the attack, the military responded in force by taking out 157 terrorists via air strikes and ground operations in the North Waziristan and Khyber tribal areas adjacent to Peshawar.

What has not sunk into international perceptions about the country is the tangible consensus among government, military, and Pakistani citizens against violent terrorists including the Pakistani Taliban and the alphabet soup of other terrorist groups in and around the country. Pakistan will continue to experience attacks by fringe groups, but policymakers and investors need to stop operating as if the Pakistani Taliban is at Islamabad’s doorstep.

Political Stability

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is governing with a competent cabinet, a majority coalition, and is working in tandem with the military to deliver peace and security. Sharif was elected in Pakistan’s transition of power between democratically elected governments in April 2013 and so far, he has demonstrated enough of a commitment to democracy.

For much of last year, Sharif exercised restraint against an active opposition that led a crippling 162-day sit-in in front of the National Assembly to contest the 2013 election results. Instead of opting for an aggressive approach, Sharif wisely deferred to an independent election mission to verify the results, which recently ruled in favor of his party. The military, at the request of the Prime Minister, encouraged the crowds to disperse peacefully. The military’s decision not to use force against protesters – or the sitting prime minister – suggests that Pakistan could be on its way to further consolidating its fragile democracy.

Better Luck Around the Corridor

Chinese investment is another reason why the United States should reassess its Pakistan calculus. Since Xi Jinping first announced the $46 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) in 2014, the project has quickly become the centerpiece of diplomatic relations between the two countries. CPEC will include highways, railways, and oil and gas pipelines – all constructed via Chinese companies.

The CPEC project aims to connect China and Pakistan, ending in Pakistan’s Gwadar Port on the Arabian Sea.
The CPEC project aims to connect China and Pakistan, with an outlet to Pakistan’s Gwadar Port on the Arabian Sea.

Even the possibility of the scheme’s partial achievement has injected optimism in a country starved for infrastructure and energy investment. The deal has also greatly incentivized the government to clamp down on terrorist groups. Economic success is by no means guaranteed especially given China’s checkered track record of investing in infrastructure projects abroad. Still, China’s bet on Pakistan could overshadow US contributions unless we rethink our mix of engagement.

Similar to its approach in Kazakhstan, China is interested in leveraging Pakistan – in the words of Dan Twining – as a “launching pad” for greater connectivity with energy producers in the Gulf and Middle East, as well as markets in the West. The good news is that Pakistani businesses still prefer the allure of technology transfer and innovation offered by U.S. companies. But make no mistake: for Pakistanis, Chinese investment is better than no investment.


Pakistan: The Next Colombia Success Story?
Continued from page 1
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A New Development Story

Pakistan has a population of 182.1 million people and is the 6th largest country in the world. Sixty percent of the population is of working age. By 2050, Pakistan’s total population will be nearly 300 million, making it roughly ten times the size of Afghanistan. Pakistan is also among the world’s fastest urbanizing countries with half its people projected to live in cities by 2050. Twenty years ago, Islamabad, a planned city much like Brasilia, had a population of 400,000; today, it has a population of around 3 million including the peri-urban areas. Many Pakistani cities are undergoing a similar urbanization process, and this will create massive demands on food, energy, water, and consumer goods.

At the same time, macroeconomic and structural reforms over the last several governments have narrowed the budget deficit and raised GDP growth to a stable 4.5 percent despite large energy deficits, and built foreign reserves up to over $17 billion. Low oil prices and the $14 billion in annual remittances the country receives from its 6 million-strong diaspora have also helped. There has been substantial progress in reducing poverty, which has fallen to 13.6 percent in 2011 from 35 percent in 2002; in rural areas, poverty has dropped from 40 to 15 percent during the same period. While there is some debate on the accuracy of these numbers, there has been clear progress. In May, Standard and Poor upgraded Pakistan’s credit rating from stable to positive.

Pakistan is the world’s 26th largest economy in terms of purchasing power parity. Its national economic growth plan, Vision2025, aims much higher. With 90 percent of the country employed through SMEs, Pakistan has one of the most entrepreneurial economies in the world. Complete foreign equity is permitted in the infrastructure and manufacturing sectors, helping drive FDI to $1.45 billion in 2013, a 76 percent increase over the previous year but still far too small for such a big country.

Next Steps for International Engagement

As Pakistan gradually improves on a number of fronts, so should its relationship with the United States. Clearly, Pakistan wants more than just traditional foreign aid. During my visit, a prominent Pakistani intellectual and influencer told me that “if the United States isn’t going to build stuff, then it shouldn’t don’t bother.” Given the smaller budget envelope for U.S. infrastructure projects (the largest infrastructure project built by the United States in the last decade is the new U.S. embassy), assistance should be geared towards facilitating infrastructure investment particularly in the water and energy sectors.

Specifically, the United States should encourage regulatory and policy reform and encourage greater US investment using specialized agencies including Overseas Private Investment Corporation, the U.S. Trade Development Agency and USAID’s Development Credit Authority. Negotiations for a U.S.-Pakistan Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) have stalled due to reservations on both sides, but a successfully concluded BIT would be a strong signal of certainty and stability for US based investors interested in deeper engagement in Pakistan. This might be a good topic for discussion when Prime Minister Sharif visits DC in October.

A high level Pakistani official told me of their need for at least Pakistani 10,000 PhDs from the US in the near future. The United States should find more ways to increase educational opportunities for Pakistani students especially in critical areas such as urban planning, public administration, agriculture, and STEM.

Currently, the U.S. relationship with the country has been limited to a risk mitigation paradigm. However, the changes outlined above warrant a reframing of the way countries such as the United States engage with Pakistan’s government and especially its private sector. Pakistan is on a hopeful path and with the right mix of assistance and private investment, the United States can participate in Pakistan’s upside and remain a strategic partner.


This article previously stated that projections indicate Pakistan’s population will approach 300 million by 2025. It has been edited to indicate this will occur by 2050.

Pakistan: The Next Colombia Success Story?

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For the sake of peace..

August 6, 2011

“Faraz, turn the car and head towards home quickly!”

“But why, mom? We are about to reach Zamzama Boulevard!”

“We shouldn’t. I’m getting messages about the blast that has happened only several minutes ago outside Abdullah Shah Ghazi’s Mazaar.”

“Oh, no! Not again!”

The sudden out-burst of my grief expressed over such incidents was not uncommon. It has looked like, since the past four years, as if it has been usual for the bombs to be blasted in the biggest cosmopolitan city of Pakistan as whenever the number of causalities rise, people only bother seeing each other and utter, “tch!”. Those trapped in the city, lucky enough to have found themselves to be alive, would rush towards wherever they would find a safe temporary abode – their babies in their arms, their faces absorbed with fear, their forehead filled with perspiration and their heartbeat running faster than ever. While driving my car back to home, I pondered whether they will be killed in the moments to come? If they survived, how long are they going to survive? If they die, who will take care of their babies – too little to feed themselves and too needy for the parents’ love and care! And then there are many questions that daunt them and which makes them to run, as fast as they could.

The magnitude of violence that has become prevalent in Pakistan today can best be grasped from basic arithmetic. Between 2003 and 2010, a total of 13,063 (and rising) casualties have been reported (http://www.satp.org/satporgtp/countries/pakistan/). Although the number of attacks have reduced each year, the number of people who have become victim to those attacks have increased proportionately. No wonder, the people becoming victims of such attacks, either directly or indirectly, would find themselves to be emotionally and/or mentally affected. Even those who would just watch a reporter on television briefing a local bomb blast, would start holding pessimist views about the progress of the country and its power incurbing violence. This makes people more vulnerable to their environment and whatever they do is associated with a common fear of being hurt.

The teenage group in the country is the one that has been affected cognitively from the violence the most. These very teenagers, due to fear of being bombed or hit by a bullet, remain confined to their houses. The result is that they do not get enough exposure to their surroundings and travel less. This limits their creativity and thinking capacity, and puts them at an unfavorable position than the children in the peaceful parts of the world. More importantly, in the face of growing religious fanatics and extremists who use various tactics to persuade youngsters from less well-off and uneducated backgrounds to suicide in the name of God (by, in fact, killinghundreds of innocents), we see youngsters becoming emotionally twisted and used. Their thoughts divert from books and libraries to guns and Jihadi-training centres. They become brain-washed and are trained in a way that their morals degenerate constantly (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NUICJlRjYeQ&feature=fvst – from 1:55). When such age group starts using violence as a means to pursue their targets, it becomes hard for a nation to curb violence.

The people aged between 20 and 45 also tend to be affected emotionally by violence in Pakistan. They are the one belonging to various professions; from a wage-earning farmer in Charsadda to a high salary-earning CEO of a company in Lahore. When violence in a region becomes wide-spread, they find it difficult to work properly and their frequent absenteeism results in increased loss of productivity, output and profits. Frequent bombings and sounds of bullets being fired across the region not only adds to tension and depression amongst people but can also be a cause of the demolition of their habitats and work-places. They would often ask themselves of the crime they have committed for the high price they are paying.

Waheed, a driver of my cousin, says from his personal encounter, “Violence is like a flood. It washes away your home and loved ones in a flash.”

And then there are many instances to be cited which reflect how growing violence in the society have deteriorated people’s perceptions and intellect. But the best part will be to discuss the ways in which violence, something that has taken deep roots in Pakistan today, can be counter-acted and fought.

Foremost, the law-enforcement agencies and government of Pakistan should come to realize their dutiful roles in curbing terrorism and violence. Although not a piece of cake, but an array of solid counter-violence policies can pave the way for society to prosper. This would include making all bureaucrats and politicians who work against the interests of people to be held accountable, ensuring that wrong-doers are brought to justice, increasing the size and presence of police-force in different areas of Pakistan, severing punishment for those who violate law etc. With such policies formulated properly and implemented, we will only be a step away towards apeaceful co-existence.

Secondly, the media, which is amongst the very few institutions functioning properly in Pakistan, should be moderate when reporting incidents of violence. Although freedom of expression is honored, the reporting of incidents which may seed dissidence and turmoil amongst the masses must be discouraged. It is sometimes furious to see media reporting one-sided when in fact, on a broader level, the role of the media should be to show people the news without being partial and inspire them to take an action. Talk-shows must be held on regular basis, with guests being students and members of common public, unaffiliated with any political party, where ways to combat violence should be discussed.

Lastly, it is we who actually can make a difference in shaping the way our country thrives. Rather than talking chunks about how violence and terrorism has ripped the country off on our comfy TV Lounge’s sofa, we should get out of the house and practically do what it would take for a person to do his/her part to curb violence. People should not be afraid of organizing rallies, demonstrations and protests; as they are a way of registering your concern in promoting peace and curbing violence in the society. Moreover, we should endeavor to approach our local MNA/MPA or other politica lofficer and raise our concerns and voices against violence to him. Repeated pressures on such political officers from different areas of Pakistan will eventually take the issue to higher authorities and an action that will prove to be in the best interests of people wanting to promote peace will be inevitable.

It is the high time that solutions to combat violence and terrorism be planed, framed and implemented immediately; as even giving an inch of space to terrorists on the land may change the fate of the country, forever.

Please Visit aGreat Website from which Excerpts haven taken:http://bornthizway.wordpress.com/category/uncategorized/ 


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NOTES FROM A SOCIAL SCIENTIST: The March 23rd Outswinger!

The March 23rd Outswinger!
By Dr. Haider Mehdi
The Nation, 3-6-13
NOTE: Several readers who reviewed my last week’s article (“Fraudulent Intentions – Deceptive Motives,” The Nation, Feb. 28th) have asked a question: How are we going to get rid of “Muk-Muka” democracy in Pakistan?  Today’s article is my response to this important query.
If you have played cricket yourself, or if you are a passionate fan of the game, then you will know that a fastbowler’s outswinger is his most deadly weapon against any top-class batsman. Decades ago when the Australian cricket team came on its first tour of Pakistan, I remember Fazal Mahmood clean-bowled Neil Harvey with his famous outswinger (an inswinger to left-handed Harvey).  The bails literally flew to the boundary.  Pankaj Roy, Indian former opener, repeatedly lost his wicket to Mahmoud Hussain’s (my older brother) outswingers.
Indeed, outswingers are deadly ammunition in the bowling arsenal of a pacebowler, specifically when the wind is blowing from behind the bowler’s end.  Imran Khan swung the ball both ways (outswings and inswings) with tremendous speed, razorblade sharpness and pinpoint accuracy.  He surprised his opponents with the sudden quickness of the ball and controlled directions during his bowling spells.  That was Khan’s masterpiece on the cricket ground.  And that is what he is going to do on the political field – clean-bowl his political opponents out of the game with his splendid outswing. 
PTI’s March 23rd “jalsah” at Minar-e-Pakistan in Lahore is going to be Imran Khan’s political outswinger to knock his opponents out of Pakistan’s fast-changing political game.  It will be a day when Khan’s long-held claim of shattering all three wickets in one ball will come true. It will be a day of PTI’s tsunami hitting hard on Pakistan’s political soil.  It will be a day of reckoning – the day that a fundamental change, both in Pakistan’s political field and in the ways the political game has been played so far in this country, has inevitably come.  It will be a day of victory for the politics of change in the country. 
Indeed, the day’s triumph will belong to Imran Khan’s PTI’s movement for change.  Hundreds and thousands of PTI political activists, supporters, workers, and common citizens from all over Pakistan will most certainly descend on Lahore to participate in this historical moment.  80,000 of PTI’s elected representatives will take oath to their party’s ideological manifesto.  PTI’s political manifesto will be presented to the general public, media and international news agencies.  Speeches will be made. Political goals will be set and the objectives of a movement of change will be reiterated.  It will be a massive demonstration of the public’s democratic sentiments and aspirations.  It will be an occasion of fun and delight with subtle sound and serious declarations of an agenda of political change in this nation of deprived people, unstable institutions, collapsed economy, non-existent law and order, which is facing existential threats and at the edge of a political abyss – all  caused by 5 years of “Muk-Muka” democracy.
But the massive gathering of people is not a political doctrine or a desired political goal in itself.  It is the significance of such public participation that matters.  If hundreds and thousands of Pakistanis from one end of the country to the other, come to the March 23rd “jalsah” at Minar-e-Pakistan, and they certainly will gather in immense numbers unprecedented in Pakistan’s political history, it certainly will be a demonstration of public indictment against the traditional ruling elites, politics of status-quo and the political system they have vowed to protect, sustain and promote.  Already, several public opinion polls have vividly indicated that over 80% of Pakistanis desire a fundamental change in political structure, political culture and the political leadership of this country. 
Ironically, at this crucial and critical juncture of Pakistan’s political history, the traditional political forces and their leadership are still committed to the reactionary “farsooda,” non-progressive, non-democratic ways of yesteryear. Take, for example, the PML-N’s present strategic approach to the forthcoming elections: traditional electables are being inducted into the party with enormous efforts all over Pakistan.  Party alliances with all major status-quo forces are being organized.  Hence, it is vividly apparent that the PML-N leadership still believes that increased public consciousness is of no real political significance; they believe that the masses’ heightened political awareness cannot adversely affect the traditional political system and its highly empowered political organization devoted to vested interests political leadership and their associates.  PML-N and PPP leadership seem to becertain  that no real change has occurred or can occur in political outlook in the foreseeable future of this country.  Political business will continue as usual – they are confident of their victory and electoral success to political power. 
Imran Khan’s PTI has prepared their political pitch to play the game with meticulous understanding of the undercurrents affecting the country’s political landscape.  PTI’s leadership fully appreciates public sentiment for change.  In fact, Imran Khan’s anti- status-quo doctrine has helped people in perceptual awareness of political backwardness that has plagued the country for the last 65 years and most specifically the damage the present-day “Muk-Muka” democracy has wreaked on the nation. 
Imran’s political direction, political organization and ideological doctrine is accurately in sync with public sentiment and democratic norms, and is in step with the political undercurrents going through the entire society and its demands for a fundamental change in the present-day political system and culture of this country.  PTI’s political strategy for the forthcoming elections is sound and methodically planned.  Imran has done his homework – he understands his opponent’s weaknesses, drawbacks and fears.  He knows it is time to deliver a lethal outswinger. It is time to win a well-deserved victory. 
March 23rd is going to be the day when Imran Khan will strike his opponents on the political field at Minar-e-Pakistan with a deadly outswinger – shattering all three wickets with one ball!
It is quite simple: outdated, out-of-form, out-of-sync and strategically weak and fearful players are no match to the hellfire of a deadly outswinger.  One way or the other, the March 23rd public  gathering at Minar-e-Pakistan is going to be the end of the game for the PPP, PML-N, and all of the status-quo forces in Pakistan.  

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Akhtar Mahmud Faruqui, Editor, Pakistan Link: A Pakistani Ivy University in the Making?


Our Prayer

Our Prayer

A Pakistani Ivy University in the Making? 


ABC’s Nightline program sometime back was as usual a pack of distortions about a country that remains steadfast in its support for the US. Entitled `The most dangerous country in the world,’ the program focused on the emotional outbursts of a diehard segment of Pakistan society and the fulminations of misguided pacifists known for their opposition to Pakistan’s nuclear program.
It conveniently ignored the country’s march in different fields and the progressive nature of Pakistan society. It was a willful and wanton attempt to smear the image of Pakistan. 
Yet, there was one positive comment that seemed to have unwittingly slipped from Ted Koppel’s lashing tongue: Some of the world’s best schools are in Pakistan! As the compliment was paid – grudgingly or ungrudgingly – the ABC camera panned across a classroom full of young boys and girls. Their uniforms looked familiar. Was it a Beaconhouse School chapter? I was not sure.
Yet the compliment – `some of the world’s best schools are in Pakistan’ – reechoed in my ears, and justifiably so. My own son had studied at the PECHS Chapter of Beaconhouse. He was later to win a scholarship and excel in studies on migration to the US, thanks to the excellent school education he had received in Pakistan.
Blissfully, the Beaconhouse School System has seen a marked growth in recent years. Its branches dot the country’s landscape and their number is fast multiplying. Founded by Mrs. Nasreen Kasuri and Mian Khurshid Mahmood Kasuri, the System is the largest private network of schools with 40,000 students This wholesome trend testifies to the fact that private schools today play a complementary, nay, catalytic role in strengthening the education sector in Pakistan. They have a chain reaction effect and in this enterprise Beaconhouse’s example stands out, thanks to the painstaking strivings of Mrs. Kasuri who has been at the helm of the School System since its inception.
An earlier write-up in Pakistan Link furnished a fresh proof of Beaconhouse’s sustained growth: “With the largest private network of schools in Asia, it was only a matter of time before the Beaconhouse School System was ready to take the quantum leap into the higher education sector. The Beaconhouse National University Foundation (BNUF) has been recently established with the express purpose of setting up the Beaconhouse National University at Lahore.”
The Foundation and its Boards of Trustees and Directors comprise members whose commitment to education and idealism are exemplary: Dr Moeen Qureshi (former Prime Minister of Pakistan), Dr Malik M. Hasan (Chairman and CEO, Healthnet and Founder Malik & Seeme Hasan School of Business – CSU- in the US), Lord Robert Maclennan (Member, House of Lords, United Kingdom), Dr Parvez Hassan (Founder Member, Lahore University of Management Sciences – LUMS), Mr. Kasim Kasuri (Founder and CE of Beaconhouse -Informatics), Mr.
Shamim S. Khan (Principal, Aitchison College, Lahore), Mr. Shahid Hafiz Kardar (eminent economist and former Finance Minister, Govt. of Punjab), and Mrs. Nasreen Kasuri (Founder and CE Beaconhouse School Systems).
There were more heart-warming details: “Some live on traditions, we create them. What do we offer? Exciting programs in School of Visual Arts, School of Liberal Arts, School of Social Sciences, School of Architecture and Design, School of Information and Technology, and School of Media and Communication”.
In the United States, the Hasan Family Foundation is responsible for the promotion and publicity of the Lahore-based Beaconhouse National University. Dr Malik M. Hasan and Mrs. Seeme Gull Khan Hasan of the Foundation make an enterprising couple: together the two form the vanguard of any effort aimed at promoting the Pakistani community in the US or the cause of Pakistan at Capitol Hill. They rubbed shoulders with President Bush and the First Lady and are an asset to Pakistan and the Pakistan-American community.
The Malik and Seeme Hasan School of Business (CSU) in Colorado is a living testimony to the couple’s innate stirring to promote education.
Thanks to Mrs. Hasan’s initiative, I found myself seated in Mrs. Kasuri’s Lahore office to learn more about the Beaconhouse National University.
“Pakistani expatriates are a target community,” she says. Young Pakistani boys and girls living in the US or the UK can study at the University and gain familiarity with the Pakistani culture and traditions during their stay in Lahore. They can have an “in-depth look at the cultural diversity of this part of the world. We will have special courses for them.
They could return to the US, the UK, or wherever they come from after spending a few semesters at the Beaconhouse National University. I see no problem in the transfer of credits earned during their stay at the BNU,” she confidently claims. The University would also be an ideal place for students hailing from the SAARC countries, Mrs. Kasuri opines.
The interview is interrupted by a call from a Sindh branch of the Beaconhouse. The principal has been threatened by the parents of a student who has not done well in a test. Mrs. Kasuri promptly assures her of the school’s support in a soft but firm tone. “The school is behind you,” she says. There is no display of affectations, no admonitory grunts, no high-sounding sermons. It is not difficult to realize what makes Beaconhouse such a singularly important institution in the country.
A number of accomplished academics share Mrs. Kasuri’s zest to establish the BNU. Professor Saleema Hashmi, who has been associated with the National College of Arts for 30 years, is one of them. She furnishes her views with rare perspicacity: BNU offers Pakistani Americans the opportunity “to discover something they know second-hand to know as first-hand, and to tap into the rich cultural, emotional and intellectual reservoirs of the country.
“We are hoping they earn credits in the US. Once the American universities have a look at the courses offered by BNU, I see no problem in the transfer of credits. Speaking for my own schools, this could happen immediately.” BNU is “a new vision, a fine vision that encourages an inter-disciplinary approach which is lacking in Pakistan.
“There is no liberal arts university in the country. Subjects are offered but students cannot cross-register. BNU will offer students the opportunity to study different subjects which are not available in other universities. Kuch khwab haen. Itnae saal fanoon lateefa maen guzara,” she says. The present period is the most exciting one in the history of Pakistan arts – younger artists are making a name in the international world! She talks of a “long, painful journey in gathering a young dynamic faculty.” Daughter of a distinguished Pakistani, late Faiz Ahmad Faiz, Mrs. Hashmi is hopeful that the “finest artists will be associated with our strivings.”
Another devoted lieutenant of Mrs. Kasuri is Mrs. Navid Shahzad who is demonstrably inspired by the Beaconhouse founder. “What is distinctive about Mrs. Kasuri is that she instinctively grasps the crux of the issue and does not hesitate to entrust someone with responsibility. I was given a complete carte blanche and never treated as an employee.”
Navid, who taught poetry and drama at the Punjab University for thirty years, joined Mrs. Kasuri’s group in 2001. She prepared the feasibility report, planned eight schools which will be operational in three phases: the “first six are up and running,” she says.
“We are in the process of making history,” Navid exuberantly claims. The BNU is patterned on the American system of education.
It would facilitate inter-disciplinary studies. The faculty members would also comprise scholars from abroad.
“We are trying to attract Fulbright scholars to serve as faculty members.” BNU will be an “innovative, progressive, and dynamic university with a strong base in liberal arts.”
“Pehli martaba Pakistan maen aek degree offer ho rahi hae. Theater, TV aur film maen yeh aapni naueat ki pehli degree hae,” she declares in chaste Urdu. Navid speaks English with enviable perfection but chooses to talk in Urdu. Lahore is the cultural center of Pakistan. No one can deny that the people of the Punjab have played an all-important role in the farogh (promotion) of Urdu.
“Adab ham sari zabanon maen parhatae hain. Comparative Literature ka mazmoon ham introduce kar rahaen haen. `Literature and the visual narrative’ pehli martaba MA kae liyae offer kiya ja raha hae.”
Another subject `Literature and the dramatic performance’ will be taught by Madeeha Gauhar and Zia Mohyeddin. Post-colonial literature will also be under spotlight. Soon the Department of Women Studies (Gender Studies in US) will make its debut.
The University courses will have special appeal for students from the Gulf, Malaysia, and SAARC countries. Pakistanis who find it difficult to make it to the US in the post-9/11 period would also find the BNU curriculum of singular appeal. As for Pakistani Americans, the University possesses a special attraction. “BNU offers expatriate children the opportunity to retrace their roots. They should explore their roots.”
Even mainstream American students could be tempted to study at BNU. “As a super power, Americans are isolated and insulated from the rest of the world. They must see our true face which they can do only if they come here. Who will teach them calligraphy? Lahore is one of the oldest civilizations of the world. The American has a curious mind. Let him discover what we have to offer. We are looking to forge bridges. Good for both. Every American is not a bully. America must send its ambassadors out. We also need to tell the world that we are not monsters,” observes Navid.
Dr. Isa Daudpota, an IT expert who belongs to a distinguished family of educationists of Sindh and is an outstanding academic in his own right, speaks candidly about the BNU. “The effort is to impart quality education over and above what is offered by other universities. The closest to us is LUMS but we offer a more diverse menu. We are offering subjects which are not taught in different universities.
“The way to teach would be different. There will be more open discussions. Indeed, it would be discussion-based education giving a student the chance to design his/ her course. BNU will be closer to an American Arts University.”
The University will offer training in `Films and Media,’ a subject that has suddenly come to attain primacy in educational institutions in recent years with the launching of several TV channels. With the Beaconhouse National University graduates entering the scene a wholesome change is likely to take place.
Better presentations, better scripts, better talk shows, better techniques, and better producers. A more professional outfit altogether.
The BNU is a non-profit organization. The Kasuri family is represented as a minority on its Board, an exceptional arrangement, that speaks volumes of its sincerity and commitment to promote healthy traditions and speedy growth. It is for Pakistanis – both within and without – to benefit from the University which has the making of a great institution.
If PINSTECH (Pakistan Institute of Nuclear Science and Technology) could win accolades and be described as `best of both the worlds’ by the TIME magazine, thanks to the vision of the late Dr. I.H. Usmani, Chairman, PAEC, would it be too much to expect that the BNU would emerge as the equivalent of an Ivy institution – if not today, ten years hence? If some of the best schools of the world are in Pakistan, why shouldn’t we strive to establish some of the world’s best universities in the country? (Written a few years ago, the article is being repeated to reemphasize its message.) – afaruqui@pakistanlink.com, editor@pakistanlink.com

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