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
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
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
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.
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
Published in The Express Tribune, August 2nd, 2012.
By: Ray Kalm
In: Other News
Tags: Pakistan Iran Mexico, South Korea Turkey America England City English Pakistani iranian Turkish Americans Mexicano
Location: Pakistan (load item map)
Marked as: approved
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