I am fortunate tohave been born into a family, which inculcated a knack for intellectualpursuits in me from the early years of my schooling. My parents have alwaysencouraged me to pursue a career of my choice and carve out my own niche in theworld. I toohave always yearned and endeavored to pluck a future of my dreams from theworld of endless possibilities.
Being true to my passion, I achieved academicexcellence and a prominent place in extra-curricular activitiesfrom the very beginning, like attending MUN’s and debating competitions, which refined my communication skillsto a great extent, plus organizing various inter-school events related to arts,Olympiads, expos etc. that developed organizational and leadership skills inme.So far, I have continued to strike ina wide array of fields, owing to my intense passion and curiosity. Ranging frombeing a good cricketer and a billiard player, I have had a very and diversifiedand rigorous subject combination in my high school. I undertook such a courseworkto expose myself to the underpinnings of diverse fields of study and thedifferent ways of thinking associated with each other. Myintellectual curiosity and analysis of various professions has guided me tostudy economics and politics after completing my A-level. My desire tostudy the unique blend of Economics and Politics springs predominantly from mypenchant for these fields but also from the fact that these two disciplines areconstantly intertwined and complement each other aberrantly and exceedinglywell. I have always been enticed by the social and political sciences, having anatural interest in current affairs.
In economics, mypersonal inclination is directed towards macroeconomics. Comparing andevaluating the management strategies and different tools that the governmentcan employ for managing the economy particularly fascinate me. It is intriguingto assess not only how different ideas affect the economic climate, but alsothe political reasons and repercussions of such decisions. I keep myself up-to-datewith developments within the subject by regularly reading “The Economist”.
Underlyingthe litany of Pakistan’s socio-economic development problem, I believe, is a crisis of governance as discussedcomprehensively in the chapter ‘Retooling Institutions’ by Dr Ishrat Husain ofthe instructive book ‘Pakistan beyond the Crisis State’ edited by Maleeha Lodhi. Some key causesinclude weak and staggering institutions, economic stagnation, unbridled exerciseof discretionary powers, rampant corruption, extremely weak rule of law andlack of awareness among citizens about their legal rights. Social fragmentation, religious and ethnic divide and the incursionsof terror have rent asunder Pakistani society.
As expounded in the chapter, the situation callsfor fundamental reforms in governance structures like strengthening the key publicsector institutions such as PIA & WAPDA, Civil Service reforms etc., increased accountability,transparency &efficiencyin state functions and strict enforcement of legal regime in all spheres oflife. This intimate awareness about the Pakistan’s challenges from within make me question theinequalities in my country and motivates me to attain qualification and skills that could enableme to play my role in fostering rule of law, eliminating poverty, promoting social justice and make a difference by participating in future decision-makingprocesses. It was after perusing a couple of enlightening booksincluding ‘Development Challenges Confronting Pakistan’ edited by Anita M.Weiss & Saba Gul Khattak that enabled me to attain insight regarding theimpediments that are lagging Pakistan’s economic growth and the multifariousprerequisites that could rectify this prevailing crisis. Declining GDP growth, lack of educationalopportunities that have led to low adult literacy rates (about half thepopulation) since two-fifths of those attending primary school do not completealong with over 25 million children who are not even enrolled in schools,serious structural flaws including a high trade and fiscal deficit accompaniedby a high level of external indebtedness, unpropitious business climate andweak governance that stunt the foreign direct investment (FDI), unemployment,poverty, technological and scientific retardation and an insufficientlydiversified economy constitute the substantial rationale for Pakistan’shamstrung economic growth. While proposinghis game plan to tackle these challenges in view of economic history, ShahrukhRafi Khan, in the first chapter of this volume, suggested that development processis about moving up the technology ladder and diversifying the economy.Pakistan’s case also requires addressing the shortage of highly educatedpersonnel in the science and technology sectors.
There is a need to ensureeffective allocation and utilization of resources. An exigency for qualityeducation in Pakistan exists at all levels along with technological upgradingand industrial diversification that is embodied in broader economic and socialdevelopment. Also, diversifying the economy needs entrepreneurship that is nurturedin an environment of incentives and fierce competition and about which Ilearned during my internship at Epiphany, a consulting firm run by developmentspecialists and entrepreneurs with expertise in institutional & enterprisedevelopment, governance & elections etc. There I gained experience relatingto fundraising and preparing grant proposals (for instance, to the NED –National Endowment Fund) and conducted research on e-commerce industry andorganizations’ work streams. Other than the internship, I also voluntarilyattended their lab (a 5-day accelerator) that was in partnership with the U.Sbased non-profit, ‘Unchartered’ which was designed to helpearly-stage entrepreneurs in Pakistan to rapidly identify and validate thefoundational assumptions of their business.
We conducted a break-even analysisof their business, built out a basic budget and financial model and created a6-month operating plan. When it comes tothe evolution of Pakistan’s political process, the chapter ‘Pakistan’sPolitical Development’ by Ashley J. Tellis of this book offers an adeptcritique in this regard. She states that Pakistan’s brief history is clutteredwith repeated failures of political development.
The justification of this claimis self-evident: since achieving nationhood in 1947, the country has had threeconstitutions, witnessed four military coups, and experienced a regularalteration of civilian and military governments whereas no representativedispensation has yet actually served out its full term in office. As discussedearlier, what’s missing from the beginning of Pakistan’s crisis-filled past isthe key to political development – institutionalization. And the result hasbeen a trail of corrosive consequences that plague Pakistan to this day. Shestates that representative democracy is the key and what threatens to retardthis remedy is the bureaucratic power, which incapacitates the representativeinstitutions. Andrew Wilder has summarized the nature of Pakistan’s predicamentsuccinctly, “The fundamental electoral dilemma confronting Pakistan’s rulingelites since Independence has been how to accommodate the legacy of rule byelected representatives without threatening the legacy of bureaucratic rule.The objective has always been to hold elections that would legitimate but notchange the status quo.
” Two of the world’s greatest politicalleaders, whom I personally admire and take inspiration from their long-standingfreedom struggles, are Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah and Nelson Mandela. In the opening lines of his book,”Jinnah of Pakistan”, an illuminating biography of Jinnah, the powerful andmost enigmatic leader of the last century, depicting India’s partition and themonumental role that Jinnah played in it. In his opening lines Wolpert praisesQuaid-e-Azam in these words, “Fewindividuals significantly alter the course of history. Fewer still modify themap of the world. Hardly anyone can be credited with creating a nation-state.Mohammad Ali Jinnah did all three.” Jinnah was a brilliant lawyer, aman of words and character, an adroit negotiator, an extraordinary charismaticleader and a prudent statesman.
He faced setbacks and was humiliated many timesin his struggles – first for the unified India, and then for the equal representationof Muslims, and finally for Pakistan. Nonetheless, his utter resolve, endurance,perseverance and political acuity capacitated him to accomplish what peoplecalled mere hallucinations of an egotist. The book also casts light on howJinnah’s political discourse and viewpoint evolved in response to theexperiences he underwent.
A young patriotic Jinnah, who reinforced the notionof united India at first, transformed into an intransigent opponent of theunited India over the period of forty bitter years. However, what remainedconsistent about him were his intrinsic personal characteristics such as, adherenceto principles, willpower, discipline and integrity. After reading Nelson Mandela’sautobiography, “Long Walk to Freedom”, I was able to get better acquainted withhis life events and the circumstances encompassing them. In classical andelegant prose, he tells of his early life, gradual political arousal, and ofhis vital role in the resurgence of ANC.
He describes the struggle to synchronizehis political involvement with his devotion to his family, the intensifyingpolitical strife between the ANC and the government during fifties thatclimaxed with the notorious Rivonia Trial of 1964, at which he was sentenced tolife imprisonment. Nelson Mandela is among the greatestpolitical leaders who remained resilient in the face of adversities. As leader of South Africa’s anti-apartheidcrusade and president of the ANC, he played a monumental role in leading thenation toward majority rule and multiracial government. He is veneratedeverywhere as an essential force in the fight for human rights and racialequality. His life hadbeen full of tribulations, but his commitment to the struggle never wavered. From hisquotes, all of which are held in high esteem, this one motivates me the most tomake other peoples’ lives better from a position of influence, “What countsin life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives ofothers that will determine the significance of the life we lead.
” I amalso inspired by Karl Marx’s (Marxism’s key ideologue) revolutionary theories thathe designed to free wageworkers from the capitalist societies of Europe. Marxbelieved that in order to release humankind from economic dominion, a socialrevolution was necessary. To him, capitalists, feudal lords and landowners wereset against the prevailing working class. This assertion is encapsulated in the openingline of The Communist Manifesto: “The history of all hithertoexisting society is the history of class struggle.” Lastly,I am fond of literature too, both English and Urdu. I have read works of AllamaIqbal, Faiz Ahmad Faiz, William Shakespeare, Wordsworth, Oscar Wilde etc.
“The woods are lovely, dark and deep. But I have promises tokeep, and miles to go before I sleep.” This is one ofthe profound quotes by Robert Frost from the poem, “Stopping by Woods on aSnowy Evening” that I highly cherish because of the wisdom expressed in it. Inview of my outstanding accomplishments thus far, my bright future prospects onlyhinge on admission into a prestigious and renowned institution like LUMS – aplace that could provide a rudder to my academic career after completion of myA-Level.