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St. Michael’s Inter School Science Competition 2013

St. Michael's Inter School Science Competition 2013 Logo
St. Michael’s Inter School Science Competition 2013

On 12th March 2013, St. Michael’s Convent School held its 2nd Annual St. Michael’s Inter School Science Competition.. This competition was started last year by Mr. Javed Khan, our A Levels Biology teacher. This event aims to create an awareness and interest in the A Levels Biology students about the latest research and development in the fields of medicine and biotechnology. It is indeed a perfect example of learning outside the boundaries of the class room.

The event started off a little later than planned; the opening ceremony featured the National Anthem and our School Song, followed by a recitation of the Holy Qur’an and a reading from the Holy Bible. This was followed by speeches by our Deputy Principal Mrs. Seema Naiyer and Mr. Javed Khan. This was followed by a toss to determine the order of the two rounds. The distinguished judges of the event were: Dr. Manzoor Ali Memon, Dr. Ruhina Hassan and Dr. Nisar Ali Shah.

This year, 4 teams competed in two rounds: Beaconhouse Team Proposition competed against St. Michael’s Team Opposition in the first round, and for the second round, St. Michael’s Team Proposition went against Beaconhouse Team Opposition.

The competition started off with a presentation by the first team, Beaconhouse Team Proposition, followed by a presentation by St. Michael’s Team Opposition which concluded round one of the day. After the short break, we, St. Michael’s Team Proposition opened round two, and were followed by Beaconhouse Team Opposition,

At the end of the day, after a critique over the debates and presentations by Dr. Nisar Ali Shah, the results were announced; they were as following:

  • In the first round: Beaconhouse Team Proposition beat St. Michael’s Team Opposition; and
  • In the second round: St. Michael’s Team Proposition beat Beaconhouse Team Opposition.

The results were announced in the closing ceremony, by Mr. Kevin Lobo, and the shields and medals were awarded to the participants by our respected judges.

Being one of the organizers of the event, and the leading member of the winning team: St. Michael’s Team Proposition, and lifting the trophy while wearing the gold medal at the end of the phenomenal event; I must say, it was a really proud and eventful day for me.

I would especially like to thank our Principal Mr. Peter Misquita, our Deputy Principal Mrs. Seema Naiyer Mr. Javed Khan, Mr. Kevin Lobo, Mr. Irfan Sheikh, our respected judges and the students who helped us all along to make this event a huge success. Last, but not the least, I would like to commend the efforts of all the participants; their efforts were instrumental in this phenomenal success.

Ahmer Jamil Khan

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Blog Published Social Issues

An Assessment of Pakistan’s Human Rights Record

Coat of Arms of Government of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan
Govt. of Pakistan

Ever since Pakistan became a sovereign state, the issue of human rights has been one of grave importance. The partition of India in the second half of 1947 saw one of the worst massacre, as thousands of individuals were slaughtered, made homeless, raped and abused in the process of migrating to the homeland of their choice. Governments on both sides of the newly drawn borders could not do much to prevent this; they were silent spectators to one of history’s most bloody moments.

Universal Declaration of Human Rights

In 1948, when the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was presented in the United Nations General Assembly; Pakistan was among the 48 states that voted for the adoption of the Declaration. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights passed that year with 48 votes in favor, no votes against it and 8 abstentions. The declaration became an integral part of Pakistan’s constitutions, all three of them, and still is an integral part of the fundamental rights enshrined in, and guaranteed and safeguarded by the current constitution.

Pakistan, however has seen much ups and downs in its political arena. The Constitution, when first suspended by the first coup d’état, saw unlawful arrests, exiling of influential political figures, and unreasonable restrictions being imposed upon the citizens, as the Martial Law administrator General Ayub Khan said that he believed in “Democracy with Discipline” (there wasn’t any democracy, just the innocent civilians being disciplined along military lines). During the era of Gen. Yahya Khan, when East Pakistan, now Bangladesh was fighting for its independence and dismemberment of Pakistan, the Pakistan Army committed severe human rights violations, which may be classified as atrocities and war crimes. The army massacred many professors scientists and doctors in the East, and was accused of rape and torturing prisoners to death.

Public  flogging in Pakistan during the Zia regime
Public flogging in Pakistan during the Zia regime – Human Rights Violation?

After Prime Minister Bhutto was ousted from office in another coup d’état, and General Zia-ul-Haq took over; the country saw its worst nightmare. The Constitution was ridiculously amended and new laws were promulgated in the process of ‘Islamization’. These new laws, aimed at legitimizing Zia regime, provided the administration far-reaching powers to suppress political activities. Public floggings became a common sight, political parties, trade unions, student unions, all were banned; those who dared to question Zia’s legitimacy or actions were tortured to death. The Hudood ordinances, provided for the punishments of victims of rape, and took away the rights of inheritance of women.

After Zia’s era, the Constitution was abrogated twice by Gen Musharraf, however this did not accompany large-scale human rights violation. Musharraf’s attempts to control the judiciary backfired, and the protests eventually lead to Musharraf leaving the country, and the presidency. The situation has improved greatly since. General elections were held in Pakistan in 2008, that saw the coming of a democratic government, which introduced the Constitution 18th Amendment act 2010, which reversed many of Zia-ul-Haq’s changes, and introduced articles, to safeguard the right of education and grant the right to a fair trial.

Islamabad Police beating up a protester
Police Brutality – quite common in Pakistan

Judiciary and the Election Commission in Pakistan are now fiercely independent; this means that the right to a fair trial and right to participate in the country’s government for all Pakistanis are now secure. Much has still to be done; prisoners are still being tortured in jails, child molestation is still taking place in underdeveloped urban areas of Pakistan, according to UNICEF reports.

Sindh Police beating a protester in Karachi
More Police Brutality – you just cannot stand up against injustice

Pakistan, although has a democratic government, there are still incidents of human rights violation by the government. The Pakistani constitution, for example, guarantees the right to freedom of expression, subject to “reasonable restrictions imposed by law in order to protect the glory of Islam…”. This provision is being used as a tool to impose censorship on media and access to Internet. YouTube, the world’s most popular video sharing platform is not in Pakistan, just because a few videos insult Islam. This action of censorship, in my humble opinion, is violation of an individual’s freedom of speech, expression, choice and right to information as granted by the universal declaration of human rights and the constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan and law.

The government has also failed to protect the right of life of its citizens; many people fall victims to target killing and terrorism each day. There have been instances of the law-enforcement agencies doing just that: in June 2011 the paramilitary forces shot dead an individual in a public park accused of armed robbery.

Protesting against Human Rights Violation in Pakistan
The poster says it all – protesting against Human Rights Violation in Pakistan

The situation of human rights abuse is improving in Pakistan, ever since the democratic forces have come to run the country. Pakistan, however has still a long way to go, before it transforms itself from a security state to a welfare state, which safeguards all the rights of its citizens without any discrimination of any kind whatsoever.

Read more about this issue:

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Blog Published Social Issues Speech

Confessions of a writoholic!

Extract from the Personal Diary of Ahmer Jamil Khan
An extract of the diary I write each.

No matter how much you love to write, there are times when you’re writing, or planning to write and you can’t think of something. Writing is an art of expression, just as speech is. Many people express themselves by their speech, some do that better by writing, but there are some unique cases that can express themselves to the fullest only after speaking what they’ve written; more like a prepared speech.

Some people write, because they have an inner urge to write or they might simply feel like writing; others do it because they have to, either because they’re a student and have to sit for a language exam and are writing on a given topic or a topic of their choice from the options given to them, or because they’re paid to do so, like writing a review, a how-to instruction, news, or any thing of that sorts. For the former, writing in fun, enjoyable and easy, for the latter, it may be either fun, enjoyable and easy or it may be a herculean task, burdened upon them which they must endure with patience.

I consider myself in the first category; I write a diary, a daily journal or log of what happened each day, my feelings, emotions, dreams, desires, wishes, feelings, any and everything that occurred to me whether no matter how pleasant or bitter it may be (I try to curtail and distort the bitter part however, for reasons to be discussed earlier on), I know no one is ever going to read my personal diary, not that any one may or may not be interested in reading, but because to read it they’d need an extraordinarily long password, and my fingerprints! Yes! My personal diary is encrypted in a manner similar to how the any intelligence agency may encrypt, secure and store information pertinent to global or national security. Well, honestly, there is nothing of that sort in my personal diary, really, but its just not that I cannot risk it getting into wrong hands and earning me some embarrassing moments; it is also encrypted so securely because, simply put, I can do it!

Why I write my diary? Well it is just so that I may, in my free time revisit the past joyous moments and re-live all the happiness in my life! Trust me it just works this way! Reading about what I wrote in the vacations on the chilly mountain peak besides the fast flowing river reminds me of the natural beauty, excites my senses and brings me back to those moments, to enjoy life’s most joyous moments once again! I’m a writoholic, addicted to writing! Apart form that I write a blog, you know, the one you’re reading right now!

So how do I come up with things to write? Well, to start off with, I must first confess, my best friend said that “I’m maturer than my age”, well I guess that’s why my thoughts and believes differ from those held by the majority in my age group. I believe in equality of every person, freedoms and fundamental rights, I’m a staunch believer of parliamentary democracy, equal justice under law and rule of law. Not the kind of believes and mindset of a typical 18 year old in Karachi, Pakistan, or perhaps around the world. I’m quite interested in scientific research, researches on human psychology, social interactions, physics, chemistry, biology, mathematics and so much more. Such thoughts, believes and interests inspire me to write about many things (which do not interest many of my age group).

Then why do I write? Just for the sake of it! Writing is my expression, just as speech is my expression!

How do I get inspired about writing?

Well here it goes:

  1. Daily occurrences: There’s so much happening around us all the time, so many arenas look around: sports, politics, celebrity news, gossip, new developments!
  2. Overheard dialog: If I’m anywhere public, whether it be at a park, bus, a waiting area or a mall or my school, sometimes I’ll eavesdrop on people. Not in a gross way or anything, but I’ll just keep quiet, and listen. I love hearing other people have conversations. Sometimes it doesn’t happen on purpose — you can’t help but overhear people sometimes. If you happen to overhear a snippet of interesting dialog, jot it down in your writing journal or on your smart phone (like me) as soon as possible. It can serve as a model or inspiration for later writing.
  3. Google: Stuck for ideas? The old standby, Google, has often helped me out. I’ll just search for the topic I’m writing about and find tons of great resources.
  4. Free writing: One of the best ways to get unstuck if you’re uninspired. Just start writing. Anything. It doesn’t matter. Don’t edit, don’t pause, don’t think. Just write and let it flow. You’ll end up with a lot of garbage, probably, but it’ll help you get out of your rut and you might just write some really good stuff among all that garbage.
  5. Brainstorms: Similar to free writing, but instead of writing prose you’re writing ideas. Just let them flow. Speed and quantity is more important than quality. Within this brainstorm of ideas, you’ll most likely find a few nuggets of greatness. One of my favorite ways to get ideas.
  6. Newspapers: The newspapers are a great resource. Not just news, you also get to read opinion of people, their views etc. I prefer the online version where people actually comment under each and every news article.
  7. Exercise: I get my best ideas most often while running. There’s something about the quietness, combined with the increased flow of blood through your brain, combined with being out in the fresh air with nature, that really stimulates the mind.
  8. Religion. Many of you aren’t religious (and many are) but it doesn’t matter much — the great religions in the world have ideas in them that are beautiful and inspiring. I’ve studied some of the writings of not only Islam, but Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Scientology, Raëlism and many cultures with a single god, multiple nature gods, or no gods at all, yes, I studied them all! I can’t say I’m an expert at any of these religions, but I can say that any time I’ve spent reading the ideas of religion have paid off for me in inspiration.

So what do you write about, if you do at all? Write about it in the comments below!

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St. Michael’s Model United Nations

SM-MUN LogoThe importance of debating and public speaking skills are immeasurable. Public speaking and debating are not just skills but an art, which are essential in shaping the personality of an individual. Humans are social; hence expressing oneself is an essential need. How well one expresses them and how well they get their ideas across to the other person and more importantly to a large audience determine the personality of the person. Many students in our school shy away from such opportunities, and this leaves a bad impact on them.

This is the reason why we are organizing St. Michael’s Model United Nations (SM MUN) in our school. The SM MUN is a simulation of the United Nations, where students would represent the member states of the United Nations as their respective countries’ delegates. This event aims at giving our students an insight into this style of debating, and a taste of how the United Nations works. Most importantly, this would give you a chance and a platform to speak up before an audience and an opportunity to discover and polish your speaking skills.

This event would be a great opportunity for many of you to have your first taste of public speaking, and to face your fear of doing so. There are many students who are scared of speaking into the mic or are afraid of a large audience in front of them. Don’t worry neither the mic is going to bite you nor would the crowd lynch you.

Ahmer Jamil KhanA few years ago, even I was scared of speaking into the mic and that too before the large audience. Whenever I was asked to deliver the thought of the day, or gave a speech at a debating competition, I would write a really good speech. But then at the moment of speaking, my pulse would shoot up, breathing became hard, sweating would start, and my hands and legs would tremble. Nothing is impossible, they say, and so eventually I got over my fears. I took the bull by its horns; participated over and over again in the very thing I was really scared of. It took more than a year, but soon afterwards I started enjoying public speaking. I now feel really good speaking into the mic and addressing a crowd has become something natural, something I feel I was made to do.

It is said, “In archeology you uncover the unknown, but in diplomacy you cover the known.” Yes, diplomacy is an art, an art of words, where the diplomat plays with words and sentences, to manipulate the truth, to make the situation favorable to their cause, to create a win-win situation, hiding the ugly truths and presenting beautiful lies as visionary promises.

Over these few days, you would learn not only how to be a good public speaker, but also how to negotiate, how to get your ideas and vision across to a large crowd, and would get a taste of international policy making and politics.

St. Michael’s Model United Nations would now be a part of the school’s annual calendar, and would each year be organized by the A Level 2nd year students. This event is open for all students from class 9 to A Levels. The A Levels batch of 2013 would not only leave the legacy to have organized the first SM MUN, but would also leave behind guidelines for all other batches on how to go about and organize this event in the future.

Ahmer Jamil Khan
President of St. Michael’s Model United Nations
Head Boy of St. Michael’s Convent School

Also published on the website of St. Michael’s Convent School.

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Award Ceremony 2012 Speech

Ahmer Jamil Khan

The following is the text of the speech I delivered at the Award Ceremony 2012, at St. Michael’s Convent School.
The main theme of the speech was why I had decided to do my A Levels from St. Michael’s Convent School.

Respected Principal and Deputy Principal, Honorable Parents and Teachers and my fellow students.

Welcome to the Annual Award Ceremony 2011-2012.

Today, it is my honor and privilege to stand up here, and address the bright and outstanding students of our prestigious institution, and their proud and esteemed parents.

The Annual Award Ceremony, is one of the school events that I have attended almost every calendar year, sitting here in the crowd as one of these high achievers.

I joined this institution, back in 1998, in the Lower Nursery. I still remember the first day at school, when I was left at my class, where the teacher welcomed me in. That day was the first step of my journey, 15th and last year of which began this 1st of August. This journey has been a long, yet interesting one.

I achieved a lot during this journey, the credit of which goes to my parents, teachers and my institution, who have molded and shaped my character, and made me what I am today.

This journey has been a wonderful one, I made really good friends, learned a lot of new things, and had fun doing so. I really looked forward to the school opening after vacations. It became a second home for me, and all my friends.

Out of my wonderful time in school, there have been moments where I felt like being nagged by my teachers, or felt the school rules were too harsh and too strict upon me. Not being allowed in class for coming in an improper uniform, or for forgetting books, these rules may indeed seem harsh to a young student.

But looking back at those moments, I realize that it was the concern of my teachers and the institution; they could have easily chosen to ignore our mistakes and mischief, but they did not. This decision of theirs has had made a lasting impact on me and all my fellow students. This changed our carefree and forgetful habits, transformed us into prim and proper pupil. That has made us stand out of the rest.

Now I say with pride, I am really lucky to have concerned and caring parents and teachers.

The school has always provided us with a fair and healthy competitive environment in every field, be that sports, academics or extracurricular activities, and has always encouraged us to do our best and to strive for perfection in anything we do. The school has always appreciated me in each and every of my achievements. All these have been really motivating factors.

Like me, every student has a reputation which they made for themselves, they have a recognition, and they have a fair chance in every opportunity that comes our way. The school has prepared us to face all the cut throat challenges life has in store for us.

Keeping in mind my qualities and capabilities, the school made me the Deputy Head Boy in the O Levels.

I got an excellent set of results in the O levels, which included a distinction.

Like all my achievements, the school duly appreciated my achievement, and awarded 100% scholarship to me in the A levels.

The school is like a second home, to me, and to all my friends. I did not even think about leaving the school in the A levels. And so I came back here for A levels. That was a decision I cherish every moment.

In the A levels, I was sent to the National Science Talent Competition, by the school. There, I made it to the top 50, out of thousands of high achievers from institutions across Pakistan. I was proud to represent our institution there.

This year I became the Head Boy of our School.

They say, “The journey of a thousand miles, begins with the first step.” St. Michael’s provided me with the first step which will lead me to my future journey in the professional field.

Finally, I would like to use this opportunity to thank my parents, all my teachers, and our institution, for making me what I am today. I would especially like to thank our Principal Mr. Peter Misquita, and our Deputy Principal Mrs. Seema Nayier, thank you so much for everything you have done for us and our institution. Without you our institution wouldn’t be where it is today.

Thank you everyone for your time.

Ahmer Jamil Khan