I combination in my high school. I undertook

I am fortunate to
have been born into a family, which inculcated a knack for intellectual
pursuits in me from the early years of my schooling. My parents have always
encouraged me to pursue a career of my choice and carve out my own niche in the
world.

I too
have always yearned and endeavored to pluck a future of my dreams from the
world of endless possibilities. Being true to my passion, I achieved academic
excellence and a prominent place in extra-curricular activities
from the very beginning, like attending MUN’s and debating competitions, which refined my communication skills
to a great extent, plus organizing various inter-school events related to arts,
Olympiads, expos etc. that developed organizational and leadership skills in
me.

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So far, I have continued to strike in
a wide array of fields, owing to my intense passion and curiosity. Ranging from
being a good cricketer and a billiard player, I have had a very and diversified
and rigorous subject combination in my high school. I undertook such a coursework
to expose myself to the underpinnings of diverse fields of study and the
different ways of thinking associated with each other.

My
intellectual curiosity and analysis of various professions has guided me to
study economics and politics after completing my A-level.

 

My desire to
study the unique blend of Economics and Politics springs predominantly from my
penchant for these fields but also from the fact that these two disciplines are
constantly intertwined and complement each other aberrantly and exceedingly
well. I have always been enticed by the social and political sciences, having a
natural interest in current affairs.

 

In economics, my
personal inclination is directed towards macroeconomics. Comparing and
evaluating the management strategies and different tools that the government
can employ for managing the economy particularly fascinate me. It is intriguing
to assess not only how different ideas affect the economic climate, but also
the political reasons and repercussions of such decisions.

 

Underlying
the litany of Pakistan’s socio-economic development problem, I believe, is a crisis of governance as discussed
comprehensively in the chapter ‘Retooling Institutions’ by Dr Ishrat Husain of
the instructive book ‘Pakistan beyond the Crisis State’ edited by Maleeha Lodhi. Some key causes
include weak and staggering institutions, economic stagnation, unbridled exercise
of discretionary powers, rampant corruption, extremely weak rule of law and
lack of awareness among citizens about their legal rights. Social fragmentation, religious and ethnic divide and the incursions
of terror have rent asunder Pakistani society. As expounded in the chapter, the situation calls
for fundamental reforms in governance structures like strengthening the key public
sector institutions such as PIA & WAPDA, Civil Service reforms etc., increased accountability,
transparency &
efficiency
in state functions and strict enforcement of legal regime in all spheres of
life. This intimate awareness about the Pakistan’s challenges from within make me question the
inequalities in my country and motivates me to attain qualification and skills that could enable
me to play my role in fostering rule of law, eliminating poverty, promoting social justice and make a difference by participating in future decision-making
processes.

 

It was after perusing a couple of enlightening books
including ‘Development Challenges Confronting Pakistan’ edited by Anita M.
Weiss & Saba Gul Khattak that enabled me to attain insight regarding the
impediments that are lagging Pakistan’s economic growth and the multifarious
prerequisites that could rectify this prevailing crisis.  Declining GDP growth, lack of educational
opportunities that have led to low adult literacy rates (about half the
population) since two-fifths of those attending primary school do not complete
along with over 25 million children who are not even enrolled in schools,
serious structural flaws including a high trade and fiscal deficit accompanied
by a high level of external indebtedness, unpropitious business climate and
weak governance that stunt the foreign direct investment (FDI), unemployment,
poverty, technological and scientific retardation and an insufficiently
diversified economy constitute the substantial rationale for Pakistan’s hamstrung
economic growth.

 

While proposing
his game plan to tackle these challenges in view of economic history, Shahrukh
Rafi Khan, in the first chapter of this volume, suggested that development process
is about moving up the technology ladder and diversifying the economy.
Pakistan’s case also requires addressing the shortage of highly educated
personnel in the science and technology sectors. There is a need to ensure
effective allocation and utilization of resources. An exigency for quality
education in Pakistan exists at all levels along with technological upgrading
and industrial diversification that is embodied in broader economic and social
development. Also, diversifying the economy needs entrepreneurship that is
nurtured in an environment of incentives and fierce competition and about which
I learned during my internship at Epiphany, a consulting firm run by
development specialists and entrepreneurs with expertise in institutional &
enterprise development, governance & elections etc. There I gained experience
relating to fundraising and preparing grant proposals (for instance, to the NED
– National Endowment Fund) and conducted research on e-commerce industry and
organizations’ work streams. Other than the internship, I also voluntarily
attended their lab (a 5-day accelerator) that was in partnership with the U.S
based non-profit, ‘Unchartered’ which was designed to help
early-stage entrepreneurs in Pakistan to rapidly identify and validate the
foundational assumptions of their business. We conducted a break-even analysis
of their business, built out a basic budget and financial model and created a
6-month operating plan.

 

When it comes to
the evolution of Pakistan’s political process, the chapter ‘Pakistan’s
Political Development’ by Ashley J. Tellis of this book offers an adept
critique in this regard. She states that Pakistan’s brief history is cluttered
with repeated failures of political development. The justification of this
claim is self-evident: since achieving nationhood in 1947, the country has had
three constitutions, witnessed four military coups, and experienced a regular
alteration of civilian and military governments whereas no representative
dispensation has yet actually served out its full term in office. As discussed
earlier, what’s missing from the beginning of Pakistan’s crisis-filled past is
the key to political development – institutionalization. And the result has
been a trail of corrosive consequences that plague Pakistan to this day. She
states that representative democracy is the key and what threatens to retard
this remedy is the bureaucratic power, which incapacitates the representative
institutions. Andrew Wilder has summarized the nature of Pakistan’s predicament
succinctly, “The fundamental electoral dilemma confronting Pakistan’s ruling
elites since Independence has been how to accommodate the legacy of rule by
elected representatives without threatening the legacy of bureaucratic rule.
The objective has always been to hold elections that would legitimate but not
change the status quo.”

 

Two of the world’s greatest political
leaders, whom I personally admire and take inspiration from their long-standing
freedom 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 and
most enigmatic leader of the last century, depicting India’s partition and the
monumental role that Jinnah played in it. In his opening lines Wolpert praises
Quaid-e-Azam in these words,  “Few
individuals significantly alter the course of history. Fewer still modify the
map of the world. Hardly anyone can be credited with creating a nation-state.
Mohammad Ali Jinnah did all three.”

 

Jinnah was a brilliant lawyer, a
man of words and character, an adroit negotiator, an extraordinary charismatic
leader and a prudent statesman. He faced setbacks and was humiliated many times
in his struggles – first for the unified India, and then for the equal representation
of Muslims, and finally for Pakistan. Nonetheless, his utter resolve, endurance,
perseverance and political acuity capacitated him to accomplish what people
called mere hallucinations of an egotist.

 

The book also casts light on how
Jinnah’s political discourse and viewpoint evolved in response to the experiences
he underwent. A young patriotic Jinnah, who reinforced the notion of united
India at first, transformed into an intransigent opponent of the united
India over the period of forty bitter years. However, what remained consistent
about him were his intrinsic personal characteristics such as, adherence to
principles, willpower, discipline and integrity.

 

After reading Nelson Mandela’s
autobiography, “Long Walk to Freedom”, I was able to get better acquainted with
his life events and the circumstances encompassing them. In classical and
elegant prose, he tells of his early life, gradual political arousal, and of
his vital role in the resurgence of ANC. He describes the struggle to synchronize
his political involvement with his devotion to his family, the intensifying
political strife between the ANC and the government during fifties that
climaxed with the notorious Rivonia Trial of 1964, at which he was sentenced to
life imprisonment.

Nelson Mandela is among the greatest
political leaders who remained resilient in the face of adversities.

As leader of South Africa’s
anti-apartheid crusade and president of the ANC, he played a monumental role in
leading the nation toward majority rule and multiracial government. He is
venerated everywhere as an essential force in the fight for human rights and
racial equality. His life had
been full of tribulations, but his commitment to the struggle never wavered.

 

From his
quotes, all of which are held in high esteem, this one motivates me the most to
make other peoples’ lives better from a position of influence, “What counts
in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of
others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.”