On the occasion of LUMS’ Convocation, she delivered a keynote speech which was little about her experiences life and full of inspiration for students who are preparing to start their professional lives.
All too often we give up on our dreams; sometimes it seems unrealistic, closer to impossible, but those are the best type of jobs to go after.
I was always stubborn, stubborn about following my dreams. And I was determined to work in journalism. At the age of 14, I started writing for local newspapers. By the time I was 17, I was going undercover to do investigative journalism stories.
At the age of 20, I wrote a piece for a leading English newspaper, titled ‘party to a crime’. I had gone undercover to speak to teenagers that were being harassed, tortured and kidnapped by the armed sons of feudal lords. The piece appeared in print on the morning of ‘bakra Eid’. My father was on his way to Eid prayers and came racing back. My name had been spray painted with profanities across several neighbourhoods. The boys wanted to teach me a lesson and embarrass my family.
My father was a strict man of tradition. I am the eldest of 6 children, 5 of them girls. There was a line you never crossed. I thought that day my career would be over before it even started; but he stood there and said ‘If you speak the truth, I will stand by you and so will the rest of the world’. He then got a group of his colleagues together, arranged for buckets of paint, and white washed the graffiti out.
Parents don’t often realise the impact their words and deeds have on their children. With that single phrase on that hot sunny day (as most bakra Eids are) my father changed the way I saw the world. I felt it was almost my duty to stir things up.
On February 26, 2012, as I walked down the red carpet, proud to represent Pakistan on the global stage. I remember people asking me, how does it feel to be here at the academy awards… ‘It’s like a dream!’, I wanted to scream out!
A woman from a developing country, a country with virtually no film institutions or a film industry walking the red carpet amongst the best filmmakers in the world. That is a dream. Not just for myself, but for all those filmmakers who think they can never make it to the international stage because ‘it’s just not possible’. That day is a testament that everyone has the right to dream.
It helps puts your goals into perspective and enhances your creativity.
Do I remember that moment when my name was called out, or the moment when I walked on stage? Yes. Probably forever, but none of that would have been possible, if I did not dream.
Take a moment to reflect on the haunting difference between these two scenarios. In 1947, the dream that our founding fathers had envisioned for this land became a reality. Today the very citizens of this land do not dare to dream.
But, as a nation we must dream and we must dream big.
As the future leaders of Pakistan, we look to you to amend the oversights of our past leaders and stride forth.
With a weak economy and political instability, I know the thought of leaving Pakistan has crossed your mind. While you must travel and learn about the world if you get the opportunity, Pakistan needs you, so do come back.
It is your responsibility as Pakistan’s finest, to direct your talent towards the progress of this nation. Extend the communion that you share with your graduating class with the wider Pakistan. They need you.
Speak out, don’t take no for an answer, embrace failure and dare to dream, she said.