TEDx Karachi: What Pakistan Needs Now

I had the privilege to attend TedX Karachi held on the 4th June, 2010.

I was pleasantly surprised to see Chris Anderson, who is the Curator of the phenomenon that we all know as TED.com. For those who haven’t, please visit www.TED.com and watch an amazing mosaic of ideas from all corners of the world on Technology, Entertainment and Design.
The fever has gripped the world so much that at an average 0.5 million people watch these 600 videos – and counting – everyday!
The topic chosen couldn’t have been more apt – What Pakistan Needs Now.

The following speakers did justice to the topic and shared their ideas and experiences and way forward for Pakistan. I would call them LINCHPINs, in Seth Godin’s words – they are extra-ordinary people.

  • Chris Anderson, Curator, TED
  • Jacqueline Novogratz, Founder/CEO, Acumen Fund
  • Roshaneh Zafar, Founder/CEO, Kashf Foundation
  • Asad Umar, CEO, Engro
  • Monis Rahman, Founder/CEO, Naseeb Networks
  • Asad Rezzvi, CEO, e-Cube Global
  • Joshinder Chaggar, Theater Artist

You can get a detailed account at Tedx Karachi and watch the videos once posted.

But, what I want to share with you today in not the event but what was spoken there. It felt as if each and every one of the speakers had something extraordinary to share in order to make Pakistan better.

Chris Anderson has lived in Shikarpur, Sindh for 13 years before his parents moved from here. He passionately spoke about his ‘love affair’ with a conference 12 years ago! It was TED. Internet broadband had a lot to do with the popularity of TED videos. Suddenly, videos could be watched all over the world in real time and people could learn from them or up their game. He shared the video of a 6 year old dancing better than a pro, having taught himself through videos on the web. He thinks a cell phone would have all the capabilities of internet for the common man soon. Online videos could change the thought process of our youth. Videos of motivation, entrepreneurship & things that matter could be shared freely over the net and it could change people’s lives in the remotest of the places, where it’s difficult to travel otherwise. Teachers and speakers, the ball is in YOUR court now! Thanks Chris.

Asad Umar of Engro has this passion about coal and how only 4% of Pakistan’s Thal coal reserves could take care of the country’s 100% energy needs! He discussed how the west was trying to put undue pressure against Pakistan for carbon emissions, when the US and Europe are themselves the worst cases. He spoke about Thal Coal project and how this was the biggest ever initiative taken up in Pakistan. The cost of electricity would come down once the project is up and running, around 2016. Great job, Asad. We need people like you.

I particularly liked Monis Rahman’s approach to solving country’s problems with fearless entrepreneurship, innovation and infectious belief! He has done with the toothpicks, glue and marshmallows available to him and so could each one of us. His idea of using network of cell phones – 90m users in Pakistan! – as job search tools. Brilliant! All it takes is an idea.

The one minute award-winning movie by Ali Kapadia was awesome. Here is the link to the movie and Ali’s website. Great job, Ali.

Roshanneh Zafar of Kashf Foundation has so many achievements to her credit that even if she wouldn’t have been so passionate in her talk, I would have still saluted her. But, I think she was one of the most passionate about Pakistan and how she is changing it with her foundation and how each one of us can. She got everyone teary-eyed when she sang the National Anthem and everyone stood and joined her – AS ONE!
She showed how ONE person could make ALL the difference in the world. And she is SO DAMN RIGHT! If only we could UNDERSTAND!

Asad Rizzvi enthralled the audience with a 30-second eye-closing bout with the importance of NOW… Being in the moment. He also narrated his experience on morning of 9/11 when he was attending Tony Robbins seminar with 2500 other – mostly AMERICAN – participants. And when he spoke the truth. The truth that you know could ruin you, your repoutation…yet that is the best thing to do. Great job, Asad!

Joshinder Chaggar besides her brilliant performance “FREE” with her team, spoke very briefly about the ‘time-bomb’ which is about to explode in our youth. She narrated her experience in one her dance classes where the students are required to sit still for 15 minutes with their eyes closed and are supposed to imagine the dance without moving their bodies. The first time she did it here, she was shocked that most of the youngsters broke down, crying and wailing. They had so much emotional baggage, family and other problems and no outlet. She feels ALL of them are walking time bombs and need a place to share or they could either break down or break someone’s neck, at the drop of a hat. I entirely agree with her. Given the divide between the haves and have-not in our society, we can see things like these happening around us. Bravo, Joshinder. You are much more than a dancer!

Jacqueline Novogratz of Acumen Fund is considered to be one of the Top 100 Thinkers in this world today. After hearing her speak, I realized why is that so. She feels for Pakistan and knows Pakistan much more deeply than a lot of Pakistanis I know. She has more faith in Pakistan than a lot of us – combined. Most of her mentors are Pakistanis and she respects them and looks up to them for support and advice. She talked about Tasneem Siddiqui’s Khuda Ki Basti in Karachi & now the second one in Lahore. And how patient capital can improve the lot of the poor. She said the time will never be right ever, it has to be done today.
If not now, when? If not us, who? Thanks Jacqueline for giving us hope!

The event was well organized and moderated by Dr Awab Alvi and Asad Rehman, who did a splendid job of it.

The event was sponsored by AMAN Foundation and JS Bank. 

Lets hope Tedx Karachi and events like these could help us change the face of Pakistan.  These events cannot do more than share ideas, but the action has to be taken by us – each one of us, in our own capacities, communities, schools, colleges, workplaces, mosques, mohallas. You don’t have to be at the top of the pyramid to change the world!

What Pakistan needs now is all of us together, acting as one – for Pakistan and only for Pakistan.

Dare to dream!

Change the world!

God bless us all.

Nuruddin Abjani

You may also like