Over the last two decades, Pakistan has continued to offer much greater upward economic and social mobility to its citizens than neighboring India. Since 1990, Pakistan's middle class had expanded by 36.5% and India's by only 12.8%, according to an ADB report on Asia's rising middle class released recently.
Here's an inspirational story of a young Hazara man from rural Balochistan who graduated from Harvard University:
Located on the outskirts of Quetta, is the barren valley of Mariabad where the Hazara lead slow-paced lives. These tribal people, living in narrow brick huts speckled along the rugged hillside, typically sell loose cloth, sweaters or tea for their livelihood.
Like most poor people, their aspirations rarely go beyond sustaining themselves in this underdeveloped nook of Balochistan. Many of them live and die in Mariabad — unaware of the complex concerns and tremendous pace of life in urban centres like Karachi and Lahore.
But one student — the son of a trader who sold Quaid-e-Azam style caps in Mariabad for a living — dared to tread a radically different path. Karrar Hussain Jaffar transcended the confines of an obscure town in Balochistan, where people rarely educate themselves beyond matriculation, to study at the prestigious Harvard University. His story — a narrative about the wondrous possibilities of equal educational opportunities — is truly inspirational.
“My childhood friends, with whom I spent my youth playing cricket, drive suzukis and rickshaws in Quetta for a living, while I am a PhD student in the US,” says Karrar in a humble tone. “I often wonder why God chose me, out of all the people in my community, to get ahead in life?”
But his herculean struggle with English often left him frustrated.
Often feeling like a misfit during his first year at university, Karrar mostly spent his days with other NOP students. “But after a year I managed to befriend other students from Lyceum and Karachi Grammar school.”
He sheepishly adds, “After a year I figured out that ‘what’s up?’ is equivalent to saying salaam.”
Karrar graduated on the Dean’s honour list, with a cumulative grade point average of 3.7 and 3.68 in his majors, Maths and Economics, respectively.
“I got job offers in the banking industry after graduating but I turned them down because I wanted to tread an academic path,” he explains in a categorical tone.
A year after graduating, Karrar got a Fulbright scholarship to study in the US.
“I simply told the interview panel that I want to come back to Balochistan after completing my studies. That’s where my home is; that’s where I belong,” he explains passionately.
But perhaps the most memorable moment in his life — an incident he recalls quite animatedly — was when he found out that he made it to Harvard University.
“I had no internet at home in Mariabad so I walked 15 minutes or so to a nearby internet cafe to check my email for Harvard’s decision,” he explains. “When I saw the acceptance email, I just thought it was too good to be true.”
Yet after he raced back home to reveal the news to his parents, his moment of rapture soon transformed into a session of lengthy clarification.
“My mother asked me what Harvard was and my father asked me to wait for potential offers by other universities” he says with a laugh. “It took a while to convince them that I got into the world’s top university.”
But ironically for a student, who was left disconcerted by the ‘westernised’ student body at LUMS, adjusting to life at an American institution was smooth sailing.
“After LUMS, I was very used to being around different types of people so studying and living in the US was not such a problem.”
Karrar completed his Master’s last year and is currently pursuing a PhD in Economics from the University of Southern California.
“I can make them realise the value of education,” he says.
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has been the target of the Modi government's cyber attacks, according to a recently released Project Pegasus report. The Indian government has neither confirmed nor denied the report. The focus of the report is the use of the Israeli-made spyware by about a dozen governments to target politicians, journalists and activists. The users of the Pegasus software include governments of Bahrain, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, India, Mexico, Hungary, Azerbaijan, Togo…
Pakistan has received nearly $30 billion in worker remittances in fiscal year 2020-21, according to the State Bank of Pakistan. This is a new record representing about 10% of the country's gross domestic product (GDP). This money helps the nation cope with its perennial current account deficits. It also provides a lifeline for millions of Pakistani families who use the money to pay for food,…