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April 20, 2019
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Pakistan Top Stories

TEDx Islamabad – Breaking Barriers one talk at a time

ISLAMABAD: TEDx Islamabad, actively spreading ideas since 2010, decided to break some heavy barriers in 2016.


Though the 2016 event was largely focused on women empowerment it certainly went way past it to spread ideas on women rights, literature, human rights, social equality and being the storm that takes the world.


Saad Hamid and Ahsan Mukhtar are the curators and driving force behind TEDx Islamabad. The duo has been working for development in Pakistan with some veteran and new volunteers. Since the initiation of TEDx Islamabad they have breaking one barrier after another through TEDx events. TEDx events are independent TED events through a free licences. The motivational and progressive speaking platform TED initiated TEDx program for global progress.

Essentially technolophiles Saad (left) and Ahsan are Digital Evangelists and Community Builders.

Opening the event Saad explained that he selected this year’s theme while talking to his wife to ensure a better future for his own daughter. He paid a tribute to the dearly departed incredible women of the Pakistan; founder of Shayan Poppy Afzal of Kuch Khaas, founder of T2F in Karachi Sabeen Mahmud and Huma Chaudry.


Invitations were sent out after careful selection of the attendees that included, journalists, writers, artists, film makers, technophiles, social activists, scientists, students and educationists among 300 attendees who filled the Awan-e-Quaid at Fatima Jinnah Park.


Speakers and Talks


Noor Aftab
TEDx Islamabad audience was captivated during the opening talk. It was driven by the sheer desire of doing something and powered by stories, stories of four women who broke barriers to find their true selves and proved the power in women.

She called upon the men in the audience and beyond to take a pledge of love, support and nurturing environment for their daughters, nieces and dear ones. To provide them an environment where they could be a better person rather than living a life of fear.

Noor is an international speaker, corporate trainer, author and Chairperson of Pakistan Women Economic Council.


Hadiqa Bashir

A 14 year old daughter of Sawat who fought the system vigorously not only to break the early marriage for herself but various other girls in Sawat. Petrified with the fate her classmate came to saw after early marriage she, with the help of her uncle, not only did she denied to get married at an early age but also started working for other teens suffering in Sawat.

She didn’t start her activism until she witnessed the suffering of these girls first hand, the sheer brutality of torture, beating and mental abuse they go through everyday as a result of their marriage in adolescence. She brought together Uluma (clerics) and activists to help shape a better tomorrow for our future generations.


Mahoor Jamal

Hailing from Peshawar, Mahoor is an artists who fends off her Hijab (veil) critics with the simple notion, “I’m not a Hijabi Artist, I am an artists who happens to wear Hijab”. With the support of her mother she left behind her “only” career option i.e medicine to pursue Fashion design and art. Today she is one of the most inspiring emerging artist promoting her work mainly through the internet.

At TEdxIslamabad she spoke of her fears and how she over came the simplest of human fears; that of failure, to become the exceptional artist she is today, without ever having to enroll in National College of Arts or any other top art colleges in the country. Honest to the last dot on her canvas and also on the stage she moved many.


Taimur Rehman

The first male speaker at TEDx Islamabad Taimur held the audience with his awe-inspiring story telling. He narrated the famous satirical piece by Younus Butt, “Badi umer ki aurat se shadi” (Getting married to an older woman). The first part of his talk sent ripples of smiles and laughter through the audience while he politely called upon the audience to adapt the long forgotten admiration terms associated with Urdu prose and poetry, Wah.

Rehman leads an IT company based in Rawalpindi and describes his passion for Urdu literature and his choice of profession as, “IT mera pesha hai aur Adab mera Nasha” (IT is my profession and literature is my addiction), he left the stage with a poem by Parveen Shakir.


Assam Khalid

A marketing and strategic planning professional, Assam Khalid gave away all his dirty little secrets at the 2016 TEDxIslamabad. He amused the audiences with simple little mind trick speaking about how our brain works and process different kind of information.

Through a couple of small experiments he explained the concepts of priming, perception management and how mind tricks work. He gave away all his dirty little advertising secrets to help the audience break through barriers.


Samar Khan & Guliafshan Tariq

Samar Khan and Guliafshan Tariq are two Pakistani women who broke many barriers to make their dreams come true. As Samar Khan explained during her talk these barriers were both, “social and physical.” The duo took a bike ride from Islamabad to Pak-China border making pit stops along the way. They shared their experience, the extensive training they went through including Mix Martial Arts training.

They rode their bikes through the northern areas, Jiglot, Gilgit, Hunza and all the way to Pak China Border collecting nothing but love and simplicity of life on this journey and upon returning home they became the symbol of courage for women and men alike.


Umair Jaliawala

Well who doesn’t know Jaliawala and his satirical take on various social issues that plague our society day in and day out. TEDx Islamabad breaking barriers wasn’t any different. With his witty one-liners he took on various social issues, how we love to talk about change but can not seem to get rid of the many barriers that hold us back as a society.

His take on religion, social issues, humanitarian issues, equality for women, justice for the poor and needy and above all mindsets that hold our society without any consideration to common sense pleasantly amused the audience and reminded us of the deteriorated state of our society today.


Amna Mawaz

Last speaker of the day was Amna Mawaz, a socio-political activist and practitioner of performing arts. She drew attention towards the farmers, peasants, the homeless and those who die every day across the country believing that either God or the nation is on their side.

Soft spoken Amna turned into an enigma during her Bharatanatyam performance with her crew mesmerizing the audience while reflecting on pain, sorrow and suffering of our society.


The All Women Nascafe’ Basement line up couldn’t make it to the event however those who did rocked the audience with their claim to fame John Newman cover “Love me Again” and followed by a medley. These girls broke their very first barrier through their first ever live performance.


Things to Remember

Saad Hamid announced a 2020 TEDx Islamabad event that would host an audience of over 2,000 participants.

You can apply for a free TEDx license for your city and/or educational institute directly from TED.

The platform supports ideas from all political and social backgrounds emerging from any given society.