On Wednesday, the World Economic Forum announced their list for the Young Global Leaders of 2008. The press release noted, “This honor is bestowed each year by the World Economic Forum to recognize and acknowledge the top 200-300 young leaders from around the world for their professional accomplishments, commitment to society and potential to contribute to shaping the future of the world.” 245 leading executives, public figures and intellectuals, all under the age of 40, were given the title this year, including two women from Pakistan – Hina Rabbani Khar, the former Minister of State for Economic Affairs, and Munizae Jahangir, a film producer and media executive.
The press release noted, “Selection of Hina Rabbani Khar was made possible for her work in providing leadership role model for the Pakistani youth. Ms. Khar was also instrumental in promoting the competitiveness agenda in the country. She has been working closely with the Competitiveness Support Fund to improve Pakistan’s global competitiveness. Ms. Khar has also represented Pakistan at various international forums, including the World Economic Forum’s annual conference at Davos.” In a past interview with the Saturday Post, Khar highlighted her opinion on Pakistani society, emphasizing, “There’s been a revolution in the last few years. I graduated in 1999 from LUMS. In six years, there’s been a paradigm shift. It’s a move towards modernization and westernization, and I don’t just mean in the way we dress. I mean in the way we conduct ourselves and carry on our business…You have to understand and accept the culture you’re living in and be proud of it to really stand out on your own. Emulating selective aspects of another culture doesn’t really translate into true social progress.”
As the editor of this website, I often assess the stories and issues currently plaguing Pakistan – the bombings, the political crises, the protests. However, this story presented an opportunity to highlight what is right in our country. I agree with Khar – there has been a paradigm shift in some aspects of Pakistani society – not all, but definitely some – that is positive, that represents progress. The nomination of Khar and Jahangir is significant not just because they are Pakistani women but because they are young and challenge misconceptions of this country with their achievements. We should be proud and truly inspired by this development.