What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of a Model United Nations (MUN) conference as a Karachiite? Most people would concur on the word ‘party’, and to some extent, it is true that such an academically invigorating event has turned into a mere ‘chilling scene’ for students.
However, recently, while attending Karachi Youth MUN’s (KYMUN) fifth event in Karachi , I was struck by the fact that most of the students, who, on average, had paid Rs4,000 for the event had just come in there to do nothing while a few others were there to prove a point.
It is not that everyone was as dumb as I was in my first-ever conference as a delegate but the quality of debate was missing at times. After being a part of the circuit for nearly five years now, the mutual consensus among the people who initiated the event is that the quality of debate is the primary metric to decide the success of any MUN conference. However, since the general focus of such conferences has shifted from co-curricular to recreational, the audience has also changed.
While listening to the delegates of an over-100-member strong committee of Pakistan’s National Assembly talk about the Panama leaks, I was taken aback. Approximately only 20 per cent of the committee participated in the debate — a very low number considering that the committee was bilingual and the topic was the most discussed thing on television channels.
MUN is quite different from your routine declamation or speech contests where you can memorise a three-to-four-minute rhetoric then couple it with some theatrics to win the day. MUN involves impromptu discussions, lobbying and most importantly, detailed discourse on the events that are happening, in real time.
Another important fact is that the ‘Rules of Procedure’, which direct you to act in a certain way throughout the committee sessions in an MUN conference, can help us prepare leaders who can rise above the ‘balla, teer and sher’ style of debates and discuss matters in a more modest and logical way.
All in all, KYMUN was a good experience. The hope that our young guns will grow up to be better than most of our leaders is a dream that we all MUN-ners share in Pakistan and some day, we all hope, that we will be able to see it turn into a reality.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 6th, 2016.
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