India-Pakistan School Debate-2013 saw Pakistani students win the hearts of the audience, and the team prize

“We want a more tolerant society in Pakistan. Debating Society of Pakistan is interested in democratic culture, confidence building measures, critical thinking and public speaking. Despite problems at the political level, we encourage debates with sharp arguments. We discuss issues across the political and ideological spectrum,” said Pakistan’s debating coach Safyan Sultan on the sidelines of “India-Pakistan School Debate-2013” at Siri Fort auditorium here on Thursday.

Safyan, responsible for putting Pakistan among the top 10 debating countries, said on an average 40 schools participate in public-speaking in Lahore and Karachi on a regular basis.

“We organise such initiatives because it is important to listen to different points of view. We may differ over a point of view but should have the patience to listen to the other side. Unlike politicians in India and Pakistan we indulge in sloganeering and jingoism, we must encourage youngsters to speak articulately with cogent arguments. And this is the reason why we are here.”

Treasurer of Pakistani educational institute SICAS, Safyan had an excruciatingly tiring day while crossing over from the Wagah border along with three Pakistani students – Hasan Qaisar, Ukasha Farooq and Azim Liaqat.

“We had to cross a number of hurdles as a number of our visas were rejected. In Pakistan you require lot of documentation. We need additional documentation because minors travelling to another country have to get permission from their parents and schools. This was not there. A number of schools rejected the invitation because of the examinations,” said Safyan, whose paternal grandfather, a Kashmiri, was born in Karnataka.

On the visa hurdle, he admitted that at times it was easy to get it while at others it remained extremely difficult.

“We were delayed after crossing the Wagah border but the immigration officers were hospitable. They served us excellent tea and talked to me for about half an hour…Next time, I will come with more students. And I want to extend an invitation to Indian students to come over to Lahore or Karachi,” he added.

Earlier, weary-looking Hasan Qaisar, Ukasha Farooq and Azim Liaqat, who arrived more than two hours late to the venue, immediately washed their faces, ironed their clothes and wolfed down snacks before preparing for the debate. They were to speak against the motion of having free trade agreement between the two countries.

In the debate, the triumvirate, who study at SICAS, argued that if the Pakistan Government agreed to have free trade agreement with India then Indian goods would inundate the local market and make it virtually impossible for the local manufacturers to survive.

“The Indian economy is growing at 5 to 7 per cent. Indian companies, which are profit-oriented, would benefit their own countrymen rather than our people. If we import agricultural products from your country then it would damage us. Therefore, we would have to put them on the negative list,” said Imran during the debate.

The Pakistani team, which convincingly justified the need for their Government to pursue a protectionist policy, emerged as winner in the debate. They won the hearts of the audience with their articulateness, cogent arguments and intelligent interventions.

The three Pakistani students bagged the first prize, the second prize and the team prize drubbing La Martiniere Boys, Kolkata students – Yamir, Ananya and Rishab.

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