Miscellaneous

Breaking the Mold: Pakistan’s Trailblazers Making Their Mark on the World

A rapidly developing country, Pakistanhas grown exponentially through the decades.  It is the world’s fifth most populous country with a population exceeding 212.2 million. With 64% under the age of 30, the country’s biggest asset is its youth which accounts for more than half of its population. Our remarkable young Pakistanis have made their mark both at home and abroad in different fields with their talent, hard work and intelligence. 



History is replete with remarkable stories of courage and success of our heroes that have greatly elevated the country’s position and made the nation proud. Although we have gone through difficult times, our citizens have constantly strived to make use of every opportunity that comes their way, or make one for themselves, where they could explore their passions to chart out their own paths. There are countless names in this country who have made us proud of their dedication to their work. And though it is impossible to name all of them here, I will try to name a few of those individuals. Whether they are teachers, innovators, scientists or doctors, our youth has made accomplishments worthy of praise. 
As the famous saying goes, “A teacher is not a king, but a king maker.” Societies flourish when good educators lead the young. Our teachers also need to be recognized for their untiring contributions. One such example among this cadre is Dr. Umar Saif, an associate professor of science and engineering at LUMS who has been named by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Technology Review (TR35) as one of the top 35 innovators of the world. He is an inspiration for our aspiring computer scientists and entrepreneurs, for his contributions in the field of academia, digital governance and support to the IT ecosystem in the country through incubation projects like Plan 9 have been recognized not only by the government with the Sitara-i-Imtiaz but also by his appointment as UNESCO Chair in the field of ICTD.   
A tech innovator and a graduate of The Ghulam Ishaq Khan Institute of Engineering Sciences and Technology (GIKI), Faizan Buzdar is another individual worth mentioning.  Having worked with major tech companies in his career, he was even acknowledged for his innovative tech company by the former U.S. President Barack Obama in 2013, for his startup “Convo”, a cloud based digital business collaboration workspace designed to allow teams to work together. Obama’s tweet read, “Faizan is a perfect example of why we [America] need immigration reform.” His innovation led to five million dollars in funding from venture capitalists in the U.S. like Morgenthaler Ventures. 
Professor Asim Ijaz Khwaja is the first professor of Pakistani descent who has been hired by the prestigious Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government as the Sumitomo-Foundation for Advanced Studies on International Development Professor of International Finance and Development. He is also the cofounder of the Center for Economic Research in Pakistan (CERP) and Director of the Center for International Development at Harvard University.  Professor Khwaja was also selected as a Carnegie Scholar in 2009. The accomplished economist’s research has received coverage from numerous media outlets including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Economist and many prestigious economic journals such as American Economic Review and the Quarterly Journal of Economics. 
Ali Moeen Nawazish is perhaps the most well-known person on this list. He received resounding praise for setting a record of acing 23 subjects in the Cambridge O level examination. The Cambridge and Columbia alumnus is also the recipient of Pride of Performance award and his contributions to the field of education are immense.
Yet another name that deserves due praise is Faisal Mirza, the Hague University’s computer science  student who is a recipient of the ECHO Awards in 2008; the ECHO Awards recognize the contribution of immigrants of non-western descent on the basis of their talent in higher education. Mirza received a scholarship for a summer course at the University of California, Los Angeles, where he chose to study English and Public Policy. He has served as a board member of several foundations in the Netherlands and went on to co-found a social trading platform Tradebits in 2014 where he also serves as CTO.  
Last but not the least, our very own talented, passionate and well-known personality from Balochistan Rafiullah Kakar. He overcame many challenges on the path of his educational career. Kakar, through his sheer commitment and motivation went from his village along the Pak-Afghan border to Oxford.  He navigated through the limitations of linguistics and circumstances, paving the path from his school to Government College University (GCU) in Lahore, scoring a spot at the Fulbright semester exchange program and the Rhodes Scholarship studying for the Master of Public Policy at the Blavatnik School of Government. The young gentleman is the 2013 Rhodes Scholar for Pakistan. It is a commendable achievement considering that this scholarship is awarded to one Pakistani annually to study at Oxford University, UK.
The women in Pakistan are not far behind. They  stand shoulder to shoulder with men, making their own mark in professional and academic careers. These countless women deserve admiration for their intelligence, acumen and contributions. 
A visual artist Nazia Khan is the recipient of the 2013 Prince Claus award. The award honors those individuals whose efforts have made a positive impact in their respective societies. She has successfully managed to promote the positive image of Pakistan with her work for the world to see.
Another person important to mention here is Namira Salim, who is a Founder Astronaut of Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic, the first private space-line of the world.  She is the first Pakistani to be recognized as the first (future) Space Tourist of South Asia and Monaco. She has officially been recognized as the first Pakistani astronaut by the government of Pakistan in 2006. Conferred with the prestigious Tamgha-i-Imtiaz, Salim has a lot to her credit. She has served as Honorary Ambassador of Tourism for Pakistan, completed expeditions in the North and South Poles, is the first Pakistani and Asian to skydive over Mount Everest, and an artist and founder of SpaceTrust. 
Sabia Abbat, the cycling enthusiast, made her mark in the world of sports. She made everyone proud when she became the first women from Hazara division to win the National Cycling Championship in 2013. She’s an emerging talent and truly an inspiration for the young girls who want to pursue their passions.
Who says girls are weak; another example of our strong Pakistani women is Rosheen Khan. Dubbed the ‘Mermaid of Churna Island’ she is Pakistan’s first female scuba diver and nitrox diving instructor. She is bringing positive change in the society and is an inspiration for others in the field. 
These are just a few names among the vast sea of Pakistanis who have proved their mettle in every field. They prove that no matter the nature or size of the challenge, dedicated individuals can carve out their own path and pursue their passions. Talent and genius knows neither gender nor bounds, Pakistanis from all walks of life and all parts of Pakistan have made remarkable accomplishments that are worth commending, inspiring others to follow in their path. 


The writer is a student of English language at Balochistan University of Information Technology, Engineering and Management Sciences (BUITEMS).

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