This guest post has been provided by Hamza Butt, a current Economics student at National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST) Islamabad, Pakistan. He previously served as the Secretary-General of Pakistan National Model United Nations (PNMUN) 2012 and a staffer a Islamabad MUN Conferences.
“Model United Nations” has now become a household term in Pakistan, particularly, in its capital city, Islamabad, where a Model UN conference is held every month, organized by a particular MUN society, each of which is attended by at least 300 to 400 students. However, things were not the same almost half a decade back, when existed only a single national Model UN society, in the country of 180 million individuals. This particular society organized an annual conference which was attended by the few elite of the country. Despite the fact that this garnered competition, it promoted disparity amongst schools and students too, at a relatively micro-level, limiting the access to the acquisition of skills that one could procure by attending Model UN Conferences.
The Pakistani society, if to be described in a single word, can be referred to as, “conventional” and is not much open to changes. The evolution of Model UN in Islamabad too was not just a walk in the park. It not only received criticism from the elders of the society, who called it as a ‘sheer waste of time’, without knowing the importance of bringing pertinent issues on floor to deliberate about, but this student activity was a target of disparagement from the national media as well, leading to the cancellation of one of the most acclaimed conferences in the country, on governmental orders, earlier this year. However, I feel proud to say that Model UN in Islamabad, evolved into a household name, despite all the obstacles faced and would like to commend the group of students who were involved in this effort.
Model UN, true to its name, also has immensely played an important role in the personality development of thousands of youngsters studying in the schools, high-schools and universities of Islamabad, imparting skills such as confidence, negotiation skills, diplomacy, persuasive & expository writing, teamwork and critical analysis, which are pertinent for future success. A statistic that almost goes ignored every time the notion of Model UN is discoursed is that the foreign university acceptance rate of students from Islamabad has risen magnificently by almost 100%, because of the aforementioned skills that the students possess, which are imparted onto them, through Model UN Conferences.
As mentioned earlier, MUN Conferences are attended by at least 300-400 students, every month in Islamabad. Despite the odd regularity, students thrive hard to win a Best Delegate Award, at the respective conference that they are attending. The research on the respective topic areas begins almost a month prior to the conference, practice mock sessions are held in schools/universities and bloc formation takes place on dedicated committee groups and discussion forums on the social media. This is partly because of the perks and non-pecuniary benefits offered to the winners of laurels at their respective institutes. They are honored in front of crowds, they often tend to stand out and most of all, they know that they are being trained to be the catalysts of change, in the future.
A recent and a remarkable feat in the Islamabad Model UN circuit was when a team from a local university made its international debut at the Asia Pacific International Model United Nations Conference at Bangkok. This was the first time a team from Islamabad was participating at a conference, abroad. The 9-member team representing Finland and Eritrea at the conference and being ambassadors of their country, out shined all other delegations from across world and bagged the “Outstanding Delegation Award” at the conference, winning 2 Best Delegate Awards and 7 Best Speaker Awards, individually. This accomplishment by Team Pakistan was also recognized on a governmental level, henceforth, showing a change in the trends of attitude towards MUNs as well as the successful fruition of Model United Nations. Such endeavors are normally encouraging and motivating for the youngsters to work harder and earn pride for their country.
The evolution of Model UN in Islamabad has been a tremendous journey, in itself. Being active in the national MUN circuit, ever since its inception in this city, I have personally experienced this expedition, which was nothing short of a joyride.