Speakers at the TEDx event held on Saturday at the Hajvery University Pakistan (HUP) agreed that Pakistan needed to tap into its ‘unrealised’ potential and untapped resources in order to make it a great country.
The theme for the event was ‘I dream of a Pakistan…’. The event – moderated by Dr Ijaz Qureishi, a radio anchor – was split into two sessions. Each of the 10 speakers was allowed to speak for 18 minutes.
Former Punjab governor Lt Gen (retd) Khalid Maqbool said it was essential that women and other marginalised sections of the country be given their rights. Lt Gen Maqbool blamed feudalism for the lack of a sustainable political system, saying that a strong educational system along with merit based employment opportunities could help the country. “People are ready for a change,” he said adding that the nation had the resources and the spirit to move in the right direction. “It will not be easy, it will not be fast; but at least it will be the first step in the right direction,” he added.
The Higher Education Commission chairperson Javaid R Laghari said that Pakistan was a country rich in resources, which he said had remained untapped. He stressed the need to benefit from the natural resources including water and precious metal reserves. Laghari said he believed that the country could overcome the energy crisis if the resources available were explored. “We have $1.2 trillion worth of gold and copper reserves in the country,” he said.
An electrical engineer by training, Laghari said the country needed to explore alternative energy generation through windmills and solar power.
The biggest untapped resource is the country’s diverse population, he said, adding that the government needed to invest in the youth. He urged the government to spend more on education, “Research,” Laghari said, “will lead to a knowledge-based economy that will help the country prosper.”
The country consultant for Google, Badar Khushnood, shared his dream of a “globally connected, locally engaged and digitally active” Pakistan. For Khushnood the potential lay in the fast growing mobile phone market and internet growth. “The internet is not just a new medium, it’s a new lifestyle,” he said, adding that the importance of technology could be gauged by the fact that a sitting chief minister had created a Facebook page. He said that conventional media was also going digital. “Change is not the death [of a society], the fear of change is,” said Khushnood.
Columnist Oriya Maqbool Jan expressed his desire for a country where people owned their culture, identity and language. He added that only technological and economic development could not ensure success. He said Pakistan should follow the example of Iran, a country that he said, had stuck to its language and culture and was all the better because of it.
“I have no new dreams for Pakistan,” said journalist Javed Chaudhry, adding that he wanted the nation to realise all of its “old dreams”. “We already have so many unfulfilled dreams that there is no need to dream of something new,” he said, adding, “Only people who are not living their dreams need a new one.” During the second session US Consul General Nina Marie Fite, The News Islamabad resident editor Mohammad Malick, actor Adeel Hashmi, Depilex owner Musarrat Misbah, TV anchor Huma Amir Shah and Yousuf Salahuddin addressed the participants.
US Consul General Nina Marie Fite said that she hoped that Pakistan could realise the dreams of its citizens. “I dream of a prosperous Pakistan,” she said.
“Our country was created by people who dared to dream,” said Mohammad Malick. He said that General Zia had robbed the society of its ability to think. “Our genesis is not ordinary,” Malick said, adding, “Let’s dream of a Pakistan which refuses to close its eyes.”
Published in The Express Tribune, February 5th, 2012.