TEDx Islamabad, An Assembly of Great Speakers

If I have to define what TEDx Islamabad has all been about I would borrow this line narrated by Taimur Rehman on the event “Khuli ankh say khawab dekho” or “Dream through open eyes”. It was a gathering of inspiring minds coming together to share and inspire courage required to break the barriers of social injustices. From the courage of a 14 year old girl (Hadiqa Bashir fighting against child marriages in Swat), we had glimpses of the courage required by a woman to manage a portfolio of $49.6 billion (Noor Aftab president of International Women Economic Council).

The event was mesmerizing and had a touch of excitement cuddled inside it. I have been to many events but I haven’t seen anything like the way Saad and his team (TEDx Islamabad team) have orchestrated that evening. Thanks to them for bringing these great speakers to us.

Mahoor Jamal shared her story of contradictions that every soul is constantly fighting with. Starting from “small city big dreams” and following the journey of self-expression to finally becoming a freelance illustrator that happens to be “an artist who wears a niqab” instead of a “niqabi artist”, she has become an icon for young achievers. She broke the barrier of people’s voices by embracing her contradictions. Her message “Embrace your contradictions you might find a friend”.

Then we had there Assam Khalid (Strategic Planning Director) who unveiled secrets of our own minds to us. He showed how there is our fast brain that wants to deliver information almost instinctively and then there is our slower brain that requires us to think. Marketing is all about targeting the faster brain that doesn’t think about why we are choosing a certain product without going into the nitty-gritty of the choice being made. He then told us about his coke and pepsi experiment as well. It was an interesting talk.

Guliafshan Tariq and Samar Khan lead us to believe that women can do whatever they set their mind to, and for them it was going to Pak-China border on a bicycle. They started their treacherous journey from Islamabad and ended on the high land of Khunjerab Pass and were the very first females to do so, breaking barriers.

Finally Umair Jaliawala took us from the dream of old Pakistan to the new Pakistan. He told us about the times when Queen Elizabeth traversed her way on the streets of Karachi, the days when PIA was amongst the top airlines of the world and when president of Pakistan spoke to the assembly of US. He then showed us the crevices that our society has now fallen into and it has besmirched the dream of the new Pakistan. He closed by compelling the audience to look for the remedy within ourselves. To open up, educate, probe, reflect, aim, give and celebrate. “Let’s not just put a ladder, let’s break the wall.” “Don’t ask God how big is your storm, tell the storm how big your God is.”

The last performance was by Amna Mawaz Khan, who is an activist and a dancer. She expressed her empathy to those who are left out from the society and those for whom nobody speaks. Those who speak (likes of Baba jan of Gilgit) are imprisoned. She wanted to see the revolution hidden inside us.

The attendees left the hall feeling elated, inspired and changed. I believe somewhere in those 4.5 hours everyone found a spark of courage to break the barriers that are stopping this Nation to be.