Team Pakistan sweeps debating competition in Mexico

Published: August 2, 2012
The team beat South Korea in the finals. Two team members, Zainab Hameed and Azeem Liaquat, bagged the first and second position respectively as the best speakers at the competition while the third member, Ahmed Shujaan, scored the fifth position. PHOTO COURTESY IDEA

The team beat South Korea in the finals. Two team members, Zainab Hameed and Azeem Liaquat, bagged the first and second position respectively as the best speakers at the competition while the third member, Ahmed Shujaan, scored the fifth position. PHOTO COURTESY IDEA

KARACHI: For the three 15-year-old students selected to represent Pakistan in one of the largest high school tournaments in the world, The Karl Popper Debating Championship (KPDC), the first-time visit to Mexico became their time to shine.

Not only did the Pakistani team win the final against the team from South Korea, but all three participants were listed in the top 10 speakers of tournament. The titled was achieved after winning through 6 preliminary rounds, 3 elimination rounds and the grand final.

Karachi Grammar School student Zainab Hameed was named the top speaker of the competition while Azeem Liaquat, student of the Salamat International Campus for Advanced Studies in Lahore, came second. Their compatriot, Ahmed Shujaan from the Aitchison College, was not far behind either and bagged the fifth position among more than 200 participants.

Teams from 45 countries came together to debate on a mix of prepared and impromptu motions. The event was a part of the 18th edition of the International Debate Education Association (IDEA) Youth Forum held in Mexico from July 2 to 15.

This topic for the KPDC finals was “Guantanamo Bay prison should be closed down immediately”. Team Pakistan was defending the motion while team Korea had the burden to prove that the motion should not be adopted.

The teams participated in two competitions –the KPDC and the mixed team track. In the former, they represented Pakistan as a team while in the former, they were split up and paired with debaters from other countries.

First time for everything

“It was the first time that Pakistan participated but it was also the first time that any team won with all nine votes of the judges in its favour,” said team Pakistan’s coach, Daniyal Asad, also the general secretary of the Debating Society of Pakistan. Asad also won the best coach cum adjudicator award.

A two-day selection camp, comprising the top 20 speakers at the “Under-17 Pakistan National Debating Championship”, was arranged by the Debating Society of Pakistan in Lahore. The participants were primarily the O’ level or matriculation students out of which Zainab, Ahmed and Azeem were selected.

Asad told The Express Tribune that the society has been running the debating circuit across the country successfully for the past 20 years without help from the government. “Some form of patronage from the government would have helped in grooming the talent.” The expenses of trip were paid by the US-based Open Society Foundations.

Team effort

After being selected for the competition, a five-day training camp was organised by the debating society in Lahore, following which they continued to research and collaborate for about two weeks through online mediums because Zainab was in Karachi while the other two participants were based in Lahore.  “We had a lot of team chemistry right off the bat and that was probably the main reason that we were successful,” said Zainab. She gave credit to the coach and other trainers for strenuously helping them all the way through.

“We didn’t actually have a lot of knowledge about topics like civil liberties and terrorism,” said Zainab while talking about the competition’s theme. “We didn’t even know that the Guantanamo Bay is actually a legal black hole but we had to defend the motion in the finals.” Zainab recaps that the moment their victory was announced, everybody except for the three stunned team members were cheering them on while chanting “Pakistan… Pakistan”.

“It was not only a competition but also a great learning experience during which we got to prove our talent,” said Ahmed.

He recalled one of the most memorable moments for the team when the three performed “bhangra” in traditional Pakistani outfits at the talent night.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 2nd, 2012.

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Reader Comments (72)

  • abc
    Aug 2, 2012 - 5:50AM

    Well done Team Pakistan and Congrats.


  • aLI
    Aug 2, 2012 - 5:57AM

    great job, Pakistan needs such representation all over the world.


  • Khan
    Aug 2, 2012 - 6:33AM

    Well done guys ..
    How unfortunate is this that even after 65 years we are unable to have same type of education system in public schools & colleges. A big chunk of this failure goes to all those dicators who had full power and decades of rein but didn’t pursue long term policies.


  • Omair Shakil
    Aug 2, 2012 - 7:03AM

    A proud moment for the country!


  • Muhammad
    Aug 2, 2012 - 7:07AM

    MashAllah welldone :-)Recommend

  • Aug 2, 2012 - 7:37AM

    I am proud of my next Generation. keep it up.


  • Ali
    Aug 2, 2012 - 7:54AM

    Congrats! Well Done! Well Well Done :)


  • ali
    Aug 2, 2012 - 8:19AM

    Yippeee….some good international news!!!


  • zehra
    Aug 2, 2012 - 8:44AM

    excellent !!this is just awesome!! they won defending sometihng that our leaders have failed to do!!


  • Usman Sherazi
    Aug 2, 2012 - 8:55AM

    Great job. Pakistan needs ambassadors like you. Congratulations from Peru!!


  • Zalim Singh
    Aug 2, 2012 - 9:03AM

    What was the debate them? Is Islam the religion of peace?


  • Benish
    Aug 2, 2012 - 9:09AM

    Wow.. a big achievment.. News to celeberate :)


  • Sajid Hashmi
    Aug 2, 2012 - 9:11AM

    well done sincere advice to you is to leave Pakistan as early as possible because Pakistan has no future for bright resources like you. That is another thing if any one of you wants to be politician..


  • Zeta
    Aug 2, 2012 - 9:24AM

    Proud of you young guys and gals. Thank you and Congratulations


  • A
    Aug 2, 2012 - 9:53AM

    Well done Team Pakistan !


  • Aug 2, 2012 - 10:01AM

    Superb mashaAllah :) Congrats :)


  • Ducky
    Aug 2, 2012 - 10:08AM

    Brilliant! Thank God for some good news!


  • Alfred Snider
    Aug 2, 2012 - 10:49AM

    The tournament only had 30 teams. Nice achievement for the students, but bad reporting.


  • Wahaj Shaikh
    Aug 2, 2012 - 12:54PM

    Well done Team Pakistan and Congrat


  • ak
    Aug 2, 2012 - 1:24PM

    kudos kudos kudos! Amazing achievement! You boys and girls have done the country proud!


  • Zeeshan
    Aug 2, 2012 - 1:44PM

    Congrats people!! I love to see you guys at Tribune taking care of our Indian “guests”.


  • Zeeshan
    Aug 2, 2012 - 1:48PM

    @Zalim Singh,

    “What was the debate them? Is Islam the religion of peace?”

    Err no. It was about whether you should be locked up in Guantanamo Bay. Pakistani team successfully defended your civil liberty.


  • Zeeshan
    Aug 2, 2012 - 1:56PM

    From the competition website:

    “Pakistani debaters and their coaches faced a lot of difficulties while coming to Mexico, such as the visa process and delayed or missed flights, but they are more than happy to be part of the IDEA Youth Forum and the Karl Popper Debate Championship.”

    That’s Pakistan for you. Swept the two top spots while facing a million obstacles.


  • Nida
    Aug 2, 2012 - 2:29PM

    great job sweets.


  • THE
    Aug 2, 2012 - 2:46PM

    Awesome achievement! Congratulations Team Pakistan, you made the nation proud.
    I am sure the Indian haters can’t digest anything good that’s related to Pakistan. Singh’s comment above proves my point!!


  • boltanaujawan
    Aug 2, 2012 - 2:47PM

    thums up team pakistan


  • syed faisal imam
    Aug 2, 2012 - 3:24PM

    congratulate Tribune for giving some good news.
    most of the press is seeking and giving bad news only, like landlord beats railway guard without knowing why he did it.Recommend

  • Awans
    Aug 2, 2012 - 5:16PM

    Here is the debate link where you can see the debate……


  • Z.Khan
    Aug 2, 2012 - 5:20PM

    It speakes Pakistan has tremedous talent if given a fair chance to compete and prosper. Extremely encouraging news. Well done and keep it up.


  • Rabia A.
    Aug 2, 2012 - 5:37PM

    great story noman! :)


  • Talat Haque
    Aug 2, 2012 - 6:22PM

    That’s so great! :)


  • Moulay Youssef
    Aug 2, 2012 - 10:37PM

    this will to show that Pakistan is teh smarterst countries in teh world bcause all pakistani muslim is philosopher and brillant spokers


  • Akhunzada
    Aug 2, 2012 - 11:03PM

    We Can Prove it many more times in any field, “YES WE CAN” change it, many more to go yet: Congrats Mery Aziz Hum Watano :)


  • khizar
    Aug 2, 2012 - 11:09PM

    It has been proved that pakistani people are unbeatable – welldone keep going and dont forget to motivate other pakistani people to do the same as like you – GOD BLESS YOU –


  • khizar
    Aug 2, 2012 - 11:09PM

    It has been proved that Pakistani people are unbeatable – well done keep going and don’t forget to motivate other Pakistani people to do the same as like you – GOD BLESS YOU –


  • zeeshan sheikh
    Aug 2, 2012 - 11:10PM

    To those who are celebrating this including me should also support the motion about the closure of Guantanamo bay.


  • Nida Zafar
    Aug 2, 2012 - 11:15PM

    congrats to the whole proud of u guys :D


  • Nasir Mahmood
    Aug 2, 2012 - 11:21PM

    Great moment for the nation. We believe the young generation is capable of running the country better than the earlier generations. So Pakistan’s future is secured.


  • Tj
    Aug 2, 2012 - 11:48PM

    Woww wowww!!!!


  • antanu g
    Aug 3, 2012 - 12:03AM

    A bad omen for pak bashers …


  • Klitch
    Aug 3, 2012 - 12:18AM

    Wow there is ONLY ONE Indian troll in this discussion forum as of my posting this!!! They clog E-Tribune’s discussion threads with negative propaganda all the time but whenever something positive about Pakistan is published by this newspaper, they are nowhere in sight.

    This shows the hateful mentality of the people with whom we are doing Aman ki Asha. It is so sad we have a neighbor like them.

    Congratulations Zainab, Azeem and Ahmed!! You did a beautiful job representing Pakistan and you made this country proud.


  • huma salman
    Aug 3, 2012 - 12:29AM

    Proud of u azeem I hope u remember ur mathematics teacher best of luck for ur future love ur teacher huma salman


  • Jehanzeb Jehangiri
    Aug 3, 2012 - 12:46AM

    Doing parliamentary debates for quite sometime, I know the feeling when the head adjudicator announces you team as the winner. No matter what the competition it is the same feeling whether you sitting waiting for the results at IVs at LUMS or and ALL Pak at GIKI, it is an undoubted thrill and an exciting moment. But to have this winning moment at the world stage has the biggest thrill of them all. Pinnacle of your debating career when your crowned as the world’s best. I am proud of them not only because they happen to represent Pakistan but also for the fact that at this tender age they r making waves, we have to wait and see as soon as they becomes pros worlds wont be much of a hassle. Vamos Team Pakistan.Recommend

  • Nusrat Siddiqui
    Aug 3, 2012 - 12:51AM

    OK, why aren’t the girls wearing the Hijab? Shouldn’t that get them disqualified? Oh wait… This wasn’t a Quran Recitation Competition in Saudi Arabia?


  • Shehryar
    Aug 3, 2012 - 1:43AM

    Wel done and congrats!


  • PakArmySoldier
    Aug 3, 2012 - 1:43AM

    Sorry to burst your bubble, but these are all useless exercises. I have never heard of a Nobel prize recipient who was a former debate champion.


  • Blago
    Aug 3, 2012 - 2:04AM

    Well done guys. Excellent – proud of you and thank you for giving the country a positive headline around the world. Hope that the entire nation salutes your achievement – we usually fail miserably in such endeavours – specially the media needs to highlight their achievement in a major way. We must give much more air time or print space to these kind of local heroes – come on media you should have learnt this by this time. These are the people who should be inspirational to the young generation. But it wont happen if after a couple of days we move back to the usual bs – there are enough pages for that. We as a nation need to wake the heck up. And that is not gonna happen with 40 percent literacy rate. Each person must become a better human being first as an individual and then the rest will fall into place in time. Patience and hardwork – there are no shortcuts – learn that and maybe just maybe by the time your grand children are grown up their children will be looking at living a life worthy of a nation we aspire to be i.e. any kid from any village from corner of the country will have the same chance of achieving this or more as a student from one of our prestigious schools. Yes – thats how long it takes if your generation starts now. Once again bravo and may your success inspire others.Recommend

  • BLing BLing
    Aug 3, 2012 - 3:02AM

    Awesome feat :D Congrats guys!!


  • Aug 3, 2012 - 4:41AM

    PakArmySoldier, not everything is done to win a Nobel prize.


  • Rizwan
    Aug 3, 2012 - 5:12AM

    First of all i congrats the member………………….:)
    secondly it is good news for Pakistan people and these young blood prove themselves brilliant, superb and marvellous……………. and third i pray congrats to there coaches and trainers who produce these young bloods marvellous

    Allah app sub ko agay b ishe tarhe ki kamyabiyan da


  • Aamir
    Aug 3, 2012 - 8:26AM



  • sohaib
    Aug 3, 2012 - 11:58AM

    The Great Debators


  • Madiha R.
    Aug 3, 2012 - 12:00PM

    Wow – Well Done!!! You guys really made us proud! :’)


  • Sunny
    Aug 3, 2012 - 12:51PM

    Gr8 Guys !! you have made us proud ,,, Congrates to the whole nation.


  • Hassan
    Aug 3, 2012 - 4:40PM

    Congratulations Team Pakistan!


  • Lofted Shot
    Aug 3, 2012 - 8:09PM

    Thumbs of Guys, you made us proud.
    Pakistan Zindabad


  • maleeha
    Aug 3, 2012 - 10:58PM

    Welldone to our debating team……………CREAM DE LA CREAM of our nation……..i am proud of all of these bright participants especially Ahmad Shujan, I teach him french and he produces same results in his academics too………I am so proud to be his teacher……… my best wishes for this dynamic team


  • Faisal
    Aug 4, 2012 - 3:03AM

    Congratulations!!!! Faisal from Washington DC


  • Zalim Singh - FAKE NAME
    Aug 4, 2012 - 3:45AM

    Zalim singh is a fake ID because you guys all know the meaning of Zalim which means “Cruel” so why would someone have a name Zalim Singh. It is a fake name to cause a problem between Sikhs and Muslims. As a Sikh, i congratulate Pakistani team. Keep up the good work. :-)


  • Awais
    Aug 4, 2012 - 11:59AM


    My dear Pakistani Fellows.

    Pakistan Zindabad, Pakistanis Zindabad. Bring a change by voting for Khan Sahib.


  • Khaksar
    Aug 4, 2012 - 1:26PM

    @antanu g “A bad omen for pak bashers …” ….hmm….really???


  • Khurram
    Aug 4, 2012 - 4:45PM

    Times like this, you just sit and smile :) because you are a proud Pakistani


  • Atif
    Aug 5, 2012 - 2:34AM

    Shining stars of Pakistan!!!!


  • z.s
    Aug 14, 2012 - 9:17AM

    Congratulations from Canada! You guys will make your country proud :)


  • javed qamer
    Aug 17, 2012 - 9:11PM


    What a achievement


  • Wajahat
    Aug 19, 2012 - 2:39PM

    Great Job Guys. Proud of you.


  • Ali
    Aug 19, 2012 - 7:05PM

    @Khan: And we can assume you would vote Zardari to power once more? I am not defending dictators but the blame is 50/50, corrupt self elitist western lifestyle anti Islamic politicians are equally to blame!


  • Sonia
    Aug 22, 2012 - 1:32AM

    Congrats to all of them and can anybody share any link where we can see their speech.


  • sajjad khan
    Aug 24, 2012 - 4:03PM

    Congratulation young team Pakistan!Most talented and vibrant nation under the rule of most incompetent, illiterate and corrupt leadership. If only in next election we can combine this talent with great leadership, the young Pakistani nation can achieve its heights within few years, which usually take decades in other nation.


  • raj
    Aug 30, 2012 - 8:49PM

    congrats pakistan… very well done….. hope u continue the same in future too!! bhagwaan aapko khush rakhe!!!


    Sep 3, 2012 - 6:38PM

    I AM really proud of them especially Ahmed Shujjan that he was brilliant and they shoul be given the highest priority and the output they really deserve


    Sep 3, 2012 - 6:41PM

    **they should really be given the highest priority and the output they really deserve


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