A group of students of the Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto Institute of Science and Technology (Szabist) has returned victorious from China, where they bagged several awards.
The eight-member team participated in the Asian International Model United Nations Conference (Aimun) 2011 and returned with awards for Best Institution, Best Delegation in Futuristic Security Council, Outstanding Delegation in General Assembly and Security Council and the Best Position Paper Award in the Futuristic Security Council.
Aimun 2011, held between March 24 and March 27, in Beijing was attended by more than 500 delegates of 108 institutions from 38 countries. Szabist students, Mina Kidwai, Ibad Abbasi, Ahmed Shah, Ayesha Shaikh, Moaviya Zahid, Khadija Jalali, Nabil Abbasi, and their faculty adviser Kumail Raza Hemani, were representing China.
For the team, representing Pakistan in front of so many countries was a far greater challenge than the actual competition, which was intense from the start. “Pakistanis as moderate people is not what the international delegates had expected,” said Kidwai, who was heading the delegation. “People were shocked to see us talk in English, amazed to see our communication skills, and were even startled by our grip on the issues of the country we were representing.”
Everyone’s perceptions changed, however, when the team mingled with them, she said. A lot of them later expressed their wishes to come to Pakistan to see its real face, she added.
For Kidwai, the experience was so exhilarating that, even after four days since her return, she has a sore throat from cheering for Pakistan during the World Cup matches. The team sang patriotic songs during their informal sessions, with the final day clashing with the Pakistan-India semi-final.
A delegation from Taiwan was representing Pakistan and Abbasi felt they did not do a good job. They managed to defend the country but they failed to find positive things about Pakistan from their internet research, he said.
The Szabist students were up against the most difficult tasks. “We were the sponsors of the draft resolution and were facing as many as 390 competitors. A normal committee has 25 to 30 competitors so our chances of winning were thin,” he explained.
For Abbasi, the toughest time was the day when China, represented by his team, lost all votes and they had to use diplomacy and personal interaction to win them back. It was during this day, he learnt the importance of informal interactions in winning peoples’ minds. After her trip to China, Security Council member Ayesha Shaikh, now aspires to pursue international relations in the future.
The students managed to speak on a variety of issues, such as drugs and nuclear proliferation, since they participated in three Security Council committees. Abbasi recalled that he had to show a Ponstan tablet to the audience to clarify that when he talked about drugs, he did not mean opium or marijuana. It was our interpersonal and diplomacy skills and not the formal speeches that won us the awards, he said.
On the awards night, there were over 850 people from across the world cheering for the Pakistani delegation. “We felt we had achieved it all,” said Kidwai.
Hemani, the faculty adviser, said that Szabist had participated in a Model United Nations conference in China last year as well. This year, the delegates were specially selected from all departments with a focus on maintaining Szabist’s winning streak, he said.
The experiences of this conference and the confidence they gained will make them improve on our own national Zabmun, which they intend to take to the international level this year, he added.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 03rd, 2011.