National pride: Szabist student qualifies for London’s public speaking competition

Published: March 24, 2014
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Szabist’s Bakhtawar Ahmed Abbasi is shortlisted for the International Public Speaking Competition to be held in London this summer. PHOTO COURTESY: ENGLISH SPEAKING UNION OF PAKISTAN

Szabist’s Bakhtawar Ahmed Abbasi is shortlisted for the International Public Speaking Competition to be held in London this summer. PHOTO COURTESY: ENGLISH SPEAKING UNION OF PAKISTAN

KARACHI: Bakhtawar Anwar Abbasi from the Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto Institute of Science and Technology (Szabist) will take part in the International Public Speaking Competition (IPSC) to be held in London this summer as an ambassador of Pakistan.

Abbasi stood first in the English Speaking Union of Pakistan (ESUP) nationals held on Saturday at the Beach Luxury Hotel in Karachi. The ESUP competition, which has been going on for more than 12 years, had six finalists from four colleges, two each from Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad this year.

“The experience was great and I am thrilled to be participating in the IPSC,” said Abbasi, adding that it is a great platform for the young to represent Pakistan in the world.

The theme for the first round, which consisted of five-minute speeches, was ‘Knowledge and Imagination.’ Some participants were of an opinion that having knowledge is a prerequisite to creative imagination, while others believed that imagination allows people to gain knowledge. The argument went on like the chicken and egg situation with participants arguing which of the two tools should exist first.

Referring to a blind painter, Esref Armagan, speaker Noor Masood, said, “A world with a blind eye is the world of imagination.”

Many speakers said that imagination requires knowledge, as imagination without knowledge is a dream, while others argued that knowledge without imagination is just data. As the speakers talked of inspiration, some names came up such as George Bernard Shaw, Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King, Steve Jobs, Sylvester Stallone and Thomas Edison. In the second round, the candidates were given 15 minutes each to prepare a topic for speaking. They were not allowed to seek advice from teachers or trainers during this round. The topics ranged from nature to technology and from world to women.

Samar Ikram, the runner-up in last year’s competition, represented Pakistan at the United Kingdom at the IPSC 2013. She said, “The people in UK want to know more about Pakistan, as all they know is what they hear from the media, which is an incomplete picture.” A special medal was presented to her in 2013 for her speech at the IPSC.

IPSC chairperson Mrs Zohra Ashraf Noorwala said that this year only one finalist will go to the UK as opposed to last year when the winner and runner-up participated in the IPSC. “When you speak, you become a leader and, to become a leader, you need to convince.”

All of the participants for the national competition this year were female. “It is lack of interest on the part of boys that they didn’t qualify, but I am happy to see these girls participating so confidently,” said ESCP senior vice-president Kader Jaffer.

Sabeen Abbasi, mother of the winner, said, “My daughter is participating for the first time as she didn’t know about it before, but I am glad she won.”

The 20-year-old topper said, “This is the last chance I have since the age limit is between 16 years and 20 years. If I had known about it before, I would have been able to perform much better.” She hopes to win the international event and make her country proud.

The panel of judges included Barrister Kamal Azfar, social worker Nadira Panjwani and businessman Mustansir Bandukwala.

The second and third positions were awarded to Shiza Adnan Saleem from Aga Khan Higher Secondary School and Afshan Akhtar from Bahria College Islamabad respectively, while others were given certificates of participation.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 24th, 2014.

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Reader Comments (1)

  • Mar 24, 2014 - 9:48AM

    Congratulations to Miss Abbasi! That is some achievement. This reminds me of the movie “The Great Debaters”. I hope this representation will help to portray the bright face of our country. All the best and win this competition for us.

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