Alumni Lead Volunteerism Events Across Pakistan for Global Youth Service Day

PUAN Islamabad Chapter Global Youth Service Day activity at Saidpur Village, April 12, 2014.

PUAN Islamabad Chapter Global Youth Service Day activity at Saidpur Village, April 12, 2014.

U.S. exchange alumni across Pakistan joined millions of youth around the globe to celebrate Global Youth Service Day (GYSD) on April 12, 2014. All 12 chapters of the Pakistan-U.S. Alumni Network (PUAN) organized community service activities that engaged more than 4,000 youth in events ranging from anti-littering campaigns and debating competitions, to volunteer programs at local hospitals and orphanages.

“Congratulations to our young alumni for their work to improve their communities,” said PUAN Country President Haseeb Kiyani, who spearheaded the country-wide project. “On Global Youth Service Day, we see what’s possible when young people take the lead as change-makers.”

Alumni-led projects included the following service activities. For photos, follow the PUAN Facebook page:

  • Azad Jammu & Kashmir Chapter: “Youth Leaders Forum and Community Service at District Hospital” mobilized 300 youth to discuss social issues and volunteer at a local hospital.
  • Bahalwalpur Chapter: “Youth Visit to Local Orphanage” engaged 100 youth to spend time with 50 orphans and engage them in experience sharing, community service and a history tour.
  • Quetta Chapter: “Youth Talent Hunt” engaged 300 youth in volunteering for a dynamic competition focused on a debate competition, poster making and clean environment activity
  • Gilgit-Baltistan Chapter: “Climate Change Painting Competition” engaged 300 youth to create a peaceful society through art and raise awareness of environmental conservation.
  • Gwadar Chapter: “Role of Youth in Community Service” workshop engaged 50 female students to raise awareness of the value and importance of volunteerism and community service.
  • Islamabad-Rawalpindi Chapter: “Play Your Part: Clean Up Saidpur” event engaged 300 youth to clean up the village, paint a mural focused about protecting the environment, and perform an anti-littering flash mob. Project partners included Green Volunteers and Youth Impact.
  • Jamshoro Chapter: “Youth Debating Competition” on volunteerism and education engaged 300 youth to raise awareness of these important topics.
  • Karachi Chapter: “Youth Tree Plantation and Beach Clean Up” activity engaged more than 1000 youth at eight different schools to raise awareness of environmental conservation and plant hundreds of trees. Approximately 30 youth also led a beach clean up.
  • Khyber Paktunkhwa/FATA Chapter: “Let’s Clean It” activity brought 150 youth to five parks  in Peshawar to clean public spaces and raise awareness of caring for the environment.
  • Lahore Chapter:  “Today Let’s Follow the Traffic Signals,” engaged 200 youth in decorating rickshaws with positive messages about following traffic laws.
  • Multan Chapter: “Importance of Volunteerism and Park Clean Up” event included awareness sessions about environmental issues and engaged 250 youth in a park clean up.
  • Sukkur Chapter:  “Tree Plantation” activity engaged 1,000 youth in planting trees to raise awareness of the importance of protecting the environment.

About GYSD: Global Youth Service Day recognizes the positive impact that youth have on their communities and is celebrated in more than 135 countries. Held each year in April, it is the largest service event in the world. First Lady Michelle Obama is the honorary chairperson. Web: 

About PUAN: The Pakistan-U.S. Alumni Network is one of the largest U.S. alumni networks in the world.  It consists of more than 13,000 students and professionals who have participated in U.S. government-sponsored exchange programs.  PUAN organizes a number of events in Pakistan, including community service projects, leadership trainings, roundtable discussions, and community engagement activities.  Learn more at

For more information, contact PUAN Country President: Haseeb Kiyani,

KP Alumna Leads Seminar on Disability Rights

disability rights

On April 5, Pakistan-U.S. Alumni Network (PUAN) Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) Chapter alumna Sana Iqbal organized a seminar in collaboration with Empower Pak (EP) on the implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (CRPD).

The focus of the seminar was the assessment of the level of integration of persons with disabilities in KP and the role of stakeholders, such as government, civil society organizations and media, in addressing the lack of services for disabled persons.

More than 90 participants – with and without disabilities -attended the event. The guest speakers highlighted barriers in the implementation of CRPD.  They also shed light on the challenges faced by the disabled in KP/FATA, a group that comprises an estimated fifteen percent of the region’s population.

New Alumni Chapter Established in Gwadar, Balochistan!


In April 2014, the Pakistan-U.S. Alumni Network (PUAN) National Executive Committee approved the establishment of a new PUAN chapter in Gwadar!  The new chapter is the 12th PUAN chapter in Pakistan and the second in Balochistan. PUAN Gwadar Chapter held their first official meeting April 3 to discuss future activities, elections, alumni small grant projects and community engagement.  This is the first new chapter in Balochistan since 2008.

Congrats to our new Gwadar Chapter members!


Debut Novel by Fulbright Alumnus Lauded as Love Letter to Karachi

By Hira Nafees Shah

Fulbright Alumnus Bilal Tanweer reads from “The Scatter Here Is Too Great” at the United States Educational Foundation in Pakistan on 28 February, 2014.

Fulbright Alumnus Bilal Tanweer reads from “The Scatter Here Is Too Great” at the United States Educational Foundation in Pakistan on 28 February, 2014.

An old communist poet. His wealthy, middle-aged son.  A young man caught in an unpleasant, dead-end job.  A girl who spins engaging tales to conceal her heartbreak.  A grief-stricken writer.

What happens when the fates of these ordinary Karachiites converge after a deadly bomb blast?  You’ll have to read The Scatter Here is Too Great by Bilal Tanweer, to find out.  Random House published the debut novel by the 2007 Fulbright alumnus (MFA, Columbia University) last December, and the book has already earned critical acclaim.

“A beautiful debut,” writes Mohammad Hanif, author of A Case of Exploding Mangoes. “And a blood-soaked love letter to Karachi.”

“A superb and genuinely exciting debut,” writes Nadeem Aslam, author of Maps for Lost Lovers. “Tanweer assembles a story of Karachi through lovingly-collected fragments. By the end of this book he had made me see that certain things are more beautiful and valuable for having been broken.”

Since the novel’s release, Tanweer has been invited to various readings for his novel—including one hosted by United States Educational Foundation in Pakistan (USEFP) on February 28, 2014 in Islamabad, which brought together literati, academics and students from different universities across the capital.

Tanweer spoke about his novel and his Fulbright exchange experience in a phone interview with the Pakistan-U.S Alumni Network.

Q. What was your motivation for writing the book and why did you choose Karachi as its setting?

A. I did not have a set motivation for writing the book and just wanted to engage with my experience of the world and render it for others. I choose Karachi because it’s the city that I define myself against and I consider it as a reference point for understanding everything else.

Q. How was the creative process like when you sat down to write the book? Is there a specific kind of writing technique that you decided that you would draw upon?

A. I write from a point which is most compelling and deduct intuitively. I tried to explore the dramatic energy. You write about what matters to you as a writer because a writer is also a person of the world, so you give shape to whatever you have on the page.

I was not worried about the technique, but thought about the emotion and stayed true to my voice and tried to capture it as honestly as I could.

Tanweer Book Cover

Q. The adverse law and order situation in Karachi is a theme that pervades the book, but it does not become so overwhelming, so as to detract from the lives of the characters. Was this a conscious decision on your part?

A. The notion of fiction these days is that it is about information in the world, but I feel that fiction is not about so to say what is happening in Karachi, but it investigates the human heart. How real human beings are affected and what it is like to be alive in those circumstances. How is it like to love, lose and come across someone you haven’t seen for the past 20 years.

So there are sociological reports if you want to understand the conditions in Karachi, but I was looking at what it is like to be alive in those circumstances.

Q. How did your Fulbright exchange experience pave the way to your writing this book?

A. It was my first time living outside Pakistan when I went for the Fulbright, so it was a huge cultural shock to begin with. But I loved it and I have great memories from my time in New York. Also Columbia University’s MFA program is one of the best, so I was very lucky to find the funding.

So I can say that I won’t have written my book without the Fulbright funding.

Q. Lastly, please tell us about the response that the “The Scatter Here Is Too Great” received and are you satisfied with it?

A. I am more than happy with the response. The book has found big publishers in India, U.S, U.K and France. My aim was just finding some publishers for “The Scatter Here Is Too Great” so the book has met my best expectations.

So far, my book has been released in U.K and the U.S and will be published in France in August. In Pakistan, it is doing very well and has become a best-seller.

The Scatter Here is Too Great is available for purchase at local booksellers and from

IVLP Alumnus Spearheads Islamabad’s First Social Media Summit

By Hira Nafees Shah

Participants of the Social Media Summit with U.S Ambassador to Pakistan Richard Olson

Participants of the Social Media Summit with U.S Ambassador to Pakistan Richard Olson

Nearly 400 alumni, social media gurus, journalists and civil society activists enthusiastically took part in the groundbreaking Social Media Summit March 29-30, 2014, in Islamabad.

International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) alumnus and Progressive Youth Forum (PYF) General Secretary Abdullah Dayo organized the summit, which was funded by a grant from the Pakistan-U.S. Alumni Network and supported by a planning committee of alumni volunteers.

International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) Alumnus Abdullah Dayo

International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) Alumnus Abdullah Dayo

“I arranged this Social Media Summit, to provide a platform to social media activists to share their experiences with the local community in Pakistan,” Dayo said.

Attending an alumni-led social media summit in Delhi, India last fall, also served as inspiration, Dayo said.  In addition to panels on a variety of topics, including women’s empowerment, entrepreneurship, peace promotion, and youth activism, Dayo made sure to include a Skype panel with several experts from India to discuss strategies for regional cooperation.

The hashtag for the summit #SMS14 became a top trend not just on Twitter in Pakistan, but also internationally as it elicited a response from U.S Secretary of State John Kerry.

The gathering kicked off with a video message by Macon Phillips, a State Department official and brains behind the social media strategy for President Barack Obama’s 2008 successful presidential campaign.

“Social Media is a powerful platform to make sure your voices are heard,” said the chief guest at the occasion, U.S Ambassador Richard Olson, while pointing towards the impact that the medium could produce locally in the country.

U.S Ambassador to Pakistan Richard Olson taking his first selfie with IVLP Alumnus Abdullah Dayo at the Social Media Summit

U.S Ambassador to Pakistan Richard Olson taking his first selfie with IVLP Alumnus Abdullah Dayo at the Social Media Summit

The first session at the function included a dynamic panel discussion on the use of Social Media in Pakistan featuring senior journalists Moeed Pirzada, Nasim Zehra and Wusatullah Khan, in which a diverse array of opinions were voiced, about whether the state should have any role in regulating new media in the country.

“It was a thrilling experience interacting with the younger generation at the Social Media Summit,” said Wusatullah Khan after the session. “Dialogue should be welcomed because intolerance increases in society because of less interaction.”

A participant said he could relate to a different session at the summit:  “I think the social entrepreneurship panel was the best because I learned a lot and found a path that I could follow,” said Khawar Paracha.

The Social Media for Social Entrepreneurship panel included renowned names like Jahan Ara, the president of Pakistan Software Houses Association (PASHA), singer Aaroon Haroon Rashid and Sarah Adeel, Fulbright alumnus and CEO of LettuceBee Kids.

“We are going to launch a new song with an anti-piracy message,” said Rashid while talking about, a platform which aims to promote music copyright laws in the country.

Panelists at session on “Social Media in Pakistan-Perceptions and Realities”

Panelists at session on “Social Media in Pakistan-Perceptions and Realities”

Four breakout sessions were also held during the event on Youth Activism, Peace Promotion, Women Empowerment and the Power of Digital Storytelling. The Youth Activism panel pondered  the power of social media in Pakistan and questioned whether any limits should be placed due to its use by banned militant outfits to propagate their ideologies.

This ability of social media in influencing public discourse also came up in a session on the impact of  blogging and Twitter on journalism in Pakistan.

“We get instant reactions on social media,” said Jahanzaib Haque, Editor “Social media is holding journalism accountable every step of the way.”

As for the participants, many of them appreciated the amount of learning that they had received about the online world, by taking part in the event.

“I really liked the idea of live streaming and displaying tweets on big screens at the conference,” said Syed Kashif-ul Hasnain, a social media manager at a private software house.

He also said he would pitch the idea of live streaming to tech organizations who might be interested in holding similar gatherings.

Famous Singer and Composer Aaroon Haroon Rashid performing at Social Media Summit

Famous Singer and Composer Aaroon Haroon Rashid performing at Social Media Summit

“I absolutely loved the Social Media Summit,” said Madeeha Raza, a director at Morango Films. “The event gave me valuable tips about how I can use the social media to reach more people and have a dialogue with the national and international community.”

The conference also included a Skype session with U.S. social media activist Sean Martin McDonald of FrontlineSMS, who paid homage to the power of the medium to transcend boundaries.

As for the main organizer, Abdullah Dayo, the next step is to ensure the summit becomes sustainable. He has launched a website to provide a platform for the summit attendees to remain connected and integrate each other’s work.  But for now he is overwhelmed by the tremendous success that his event has garnered.

“It is the first time ever that an event on social media became the number. 1 trend on Twitter in Pakistan, and also went viral because Secretary Kerry also tweeted about the summit,” said Dayo.“I feel emotional because through this initiative, the voice of Pakistani people was heard globally.”

Hall jam-packed with nearly 400 attendees of the Social Media Summit

Hall jam-packed with nearly 400 attendees of the Social Media Summit

Take a look at the photographs from the Social Media Summit at:


For more information about the event, visit:

Internship Opportunity with American Business Council Companies


The American Business Council invites alumni of the Pakistan-U.S. Alumni Network to apply for the following internship opportunities with their member companies. Download the application form at ABC Internship Application Form.  Please submit applications to

Company Name: Citibank
Internship title: Citibank N.A. Summer Internship Program-2014
Internship dates : Open
Location: Citibank Premises- Karachi, Lahore & Islamabad
Working hours: 9:00 am to 5:00 pm
Any special skills or academic background required: Sound knowledge base in disciplines such as economics, finance, accounting etc while for non- banking areas we will consider profiles with majors in legal, audit, corporate communications etc. Proficient MS Office skills.

Company Name: DuPont
Internship title: Market Research Analyst
Internship dates: Open
Location: DuPont Pakistan, HO in Karachi, Bahria Complex 1, M.T.Khan Road
Working hours: 9am to 5:30pm (would also include market visits with 40% of desk research & 60% market info through questionnaires & face to face meetings to gather data)
Any special skills or academic background required: Engineering & Business development skills with be value added.

Company Name: Prestige/Grey
Internship title (1): Client Servicing
Internship date: Open
Location: Karachi
Working Hours:9 am to 5 pm
Any special skills or academic background required: Management graduate with strong leadership and entrepreneurial skills
Internship title (2): Creative Writing
Any special skills or academic background required: Graduate with skills to give creative expressions to marketing briefs
Internship title (3): Digital
Any special skills or academic background required: Business Graduate with an interest in developing digital media strategies

Company Name: TRG
Internship title: Strategy Analyst – Intern
Internship dates: Flexible (preferably starting between June 15 -July 15) – 3 – 6 months
Location: Karachi
Working hours: Monday to Friday – 9:30 am to 6:30 pm
Any special skills or academic background required: Business students (interested in marketing, business development, human resources, market research)

Contact American Business Council for more information about these oppportunities at The American Business Council of Pakistan (ABC) was formed in 1984. ABC is a chamber of US Businesses in Pakistan and is one of the largest group of single country overseas investors in Pakistan. ABC has completed 30 years of service to Pakistan and played a major role in being a bridge to investment from United States.


Conservation Poster Competition Engages Local Youth

poster competition 2

Teaching Excellence and Achievement (TEA) program alumna Shumaila Haleem organized a poster competition for middle school, secondary school, and college students from 12 local schools, including one for special needs deaf students, in Islamabad March 31, 2014.  The competition promoted critical thinking about energy conservation and protecting the environment.  The Pakistan-U.S. Alumni Network’s (PUAN) Islamabad Chapter funded the activity and two artists from U.S. Embassy’s Islamabad’s “Art for Social Change” exchange program, Huma and Sumbal, served as judges.  The two-week competition culminated in an exhibit and award ceremony at the Helen Keller Center, one of the Embassy’s American Spaces, attracting 100 students, teachers, and family members.

Poster competition    poster competition 3