Mohiba Ahmed

The Great Debate for me was a very poignant closure. As the president of the Government College University Lahore, nostalgically scraping through my last year at campus, it marked the epitome of my passion- of my debating career. The journey to Islamabad with the British High Commission was unforgettable because it was beautifully sewn together with the right amount of hospitality, the right amount of engagement, the right amount of inclusivity in terms of getting to meet participants from across Pakistan and most importantly the right amount of learning that was assured by the end of the worthwhile experience. I am extremely thankful to the British High Commission for not only making the experience wholesome but also helping me with my education through such a generous scholarship as well as access to the British Council Digital Library that was all given as a reward of winning the competition.

The competition was competitive and exhilarating. The adrenaline rush was the only thing that was ensuring that we make it through to the next round considering everything else was more random than systematic. We were to be assigned our speaking orders at random, we never knew if we were to be assigned in proposition or in opposition of the motion, so you get a fair idea of how the competition was the ultimate test of our nerves and our mental presence. I was still extremely humbled at having been given the opportunity to compete against such a talented pool of individuals.

When my name was announced as the winner of the competition, I was ecstatic, not because I had won the competition but because through winning the competition I was able to reaffirm my faith in the reasons as to why I debated. I did not win The Great Debate because I was just a good debater but I won it because I was socially aware. I won the competition because I could critically examine the issues that my society faced. I was able to win the competition because as a student I was responsibly being political rather than being passive. I was able to win the competition as an activist who wasn’t debating but was truly putting forward her grievances. I was able to win because I was not debating for the sake of debating but because I believed in every word that I uttered on that stage.

I am looking forward to this year’s competition and I certainly wish all the best to the competitors. My only advice is: Be as real as you can be, be aware of who you are, and only bring your true self to the stage. Don’t memorize, speak from within, believe in what you are standing up for. Let your words dominate the crowd, employing both rhetoric and logic. Be politically aware and that is the route to becoming not a good but a great debater. To this fact, history stands as witness!