Announcing the 2015 emerging leaders of Pakistan

The Atlantic Council’s South Asia Center, US Embassy Islamabad, and Meridian International Center Welcome the 2015 Emerging Leaders of Pakistan

WASHINGTON (September 29, 2015)—The Atlantic Council’s South Asia Center, US Embassy Islamabad, and Meridian International Center are pleased to announce the 2015 Emerging Leaders of Pakistan (ELP) Fellows.

ELP seeks to empower the next generation of Pakistan’s leaders. The program identifies, cultivates, and supports young people in Pakistan who have the potential of becoming future leaders by providing resources and opportunities to strengthen their engagement within civil society.

The ELP Fellows will visit the United States from October 17 – November 8, with stops in New York City; Washington, DC; Austin; and the San Francisco/Bay Area.  Their visit aims to strengthen relations between Americans and Pakistanis by addressing misperceptions on both sides of the relationship, empower the fellows with practical skills training, interactive meetings, and build a network of peers in Pakistan for future collaboration.

This year’s contingent of fifteen dynamic civil society leaders, who were selected through a highly competitive process, embody Pakistan’s ethnic, religious, and geographic diversity.  They are social entrepreneurs, artists, educators, storytellers, minority rights activists, interfaith interlocutors, aspiring politicians, and tech innovators who are working to solve some of Pakistan’s most pressing challenges.  They are committed to their communities and country and represent a broad cross-section of Pakistani society.  The fifteen are between the ages eighteen and thirty, and none have previously visited the West (North America or Europe.)

They will meet with high-level officials from the White House, US Congress, US Department of State, Department of Defense, media, civil society, philanthropic organizations, and the private sector. The Atlantic Council will host a public panel to showcase the fellows on Monday, October 26 at 4:00 p.m. Click here for more information or to RSVP to attend. This project is funded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the Community Engagement Office of the US Embassy in Islamabad, through its partnership with the Meridian International Center.  Youth Engagement Services (YES) Network Pakistan is an on-the-ground partner in Pakistan and the Hashoo Group provides in-kind support.

Media and other inquiries should be directed to Nazia Khan,

Meet the 2015 Emerging Leaders of Pakistan Fellows

Ali Haider | Haroonabad, Punjab
 Ali Haider is the Editor-in-Chief of Humans of Pakistan, a blog presenting a realistic and positive image of Pakistan through individual stories. Ali considers it his responsibility to document and share powerful stories through his lens because the stories of Pakistan’s ordinary people have the power to change perceptions, clear misconceptions, and impact the lives of individuals worldwide.

Anam Bhatti | Sahiwal, Punjab
Anam Bhatti is the Co-Founder of Deeda and Chief Operating Officer of Design Pakistan, a social enterprise and project of Deeda that uses sustainable design intervention to bring about positive change in Pakistan. She hopes to build upon her passion for art, design, and entrepreneurship and grow her leadership skills to provide social impact solutions for her country.

Danish Ali Bhutto | Larkana, Sindh
Danish Ali Bhutto is an aspiring public policy expert with a passion for research, legislation, and social welfare. He currently serves as the Program and Coordination Officer for the Women’s Parliamentary Caucus. Danish considers poor implementation of gender-sensitive laws as one of the key hurdles in combating violence against women. He aspires to be a progressive public policy expert in Pakistan.

Fakiha Ali | Lahore, Punjab
Fakiha Ali aims to amplify the voices of the under-represented and disadvantaged people of Pakistan using a variety of mediums including social media, radio, and direct outreach. Her current focus is bringing change to the transgender community-an unconventional endeavor in Pakistan. Fakiha is an emerging social activist who believes that empowering and informing communities will make Pakistan a better place to live for all.

Fatima Rizwan | Lahore, Punjab
Fatima Rizwan identifies and promotes practical solutions for challenges faced by entrepreneurs in Pakistan through her premier technology platform, TechJuice. Fatima strives to make TechJuice the epicenter of everything tech in the country and plans of expand the company over the next few years.

Hussain Haider | Chakwal, Punjab
Hussain is a youth activist who took a stand for basic education and human rights for all from an early age. In seventh grade, Hussain survived a suicide bomb attack. After learning the attacker was nearly the same age as him, he begin to think about the boy’s life and what led to a trajectory so unlike his own. Hussain concluded that lack of education was the culprit–and he decided to take action. He founded Beydaar Society, an organization raising a voice for basic human rights, freedom of speech, and quality education for all.

Khalid Khawaja Mushtaq | Muzaffarabad, Azad Jammu Kashmir
Khalid is the Chief Executive Officer of, a start-up enterprise aiming to turn Pakistan-Held Kashmir into a coveted tourist destination, with the goal of boosting the local economy while showcasing the beauty of Kashmir. Hailing from Muzaffarabad, Khalid continues to expand this initiative further and to continue portraying a positive image of his country.

Rafia Farooqui | Karachi, Sindh
Rafia Farooqui is a social activist and aspiring water expert in Pakistan. She currently works to highlight the importance of water conservation, and plans to implement ideas that will help achieve the optimum usage of existing water and infrastructure in Pakistan. She intends to work towards not only creating awareness but also executing actionable ideas to prevent Pakistan from becoming more water-scarce.

Rizwan Shoukat | Khanewal, Punjab
Rizwan passionately promotes religious tolerance in Pakistan. Residing in Shantinagar, a renowned Christian village, Rizwan launched an Interfaith Harmony and Peace campaign after multiple incidents of religious violence occurred in his community. Despite being surrounded by elements of fundamentalism, extremism, discrimination and violence, Rizwan ultimately hopes to build a peaceful and sustainable society based on equality, religious tolerance, and respect of diversity.

Saima Feroz | Charsadda, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa
Saima Feroz is a writer and student of law from Charsadda, an underdeveloped area in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. Her goal is involve women of her region in peace building initiatives, such as writings. An ambassador for peace, Saima hopes to combine her expertise in law and writing skills to work for peace, tolerance, human rights, and freedom of speech.

Sawai Mal | Umerkot, Sindh
Sawai Mal is a humanitarian worker and minority rights activist based in interior Sindh.  Sawai heads the Minority Social Development Organization (MSDO), which strives to strengthen and empower Pakistan’s youth. He is also a founding member of the Marvi Institute of Research and Advocacy, which promotes a democratic and pluralistic Pakistan by highlighting minority rights.

Syed Azhar Shah | Mardan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa
Azhar is an entrepreneur from Mardan whose mission is to connect civil society organizations with technology and communications platforms necessary to accomplish their goals. Azhar believes in the power of technology to address the humanitarian crises afflicting his country. He is the Co-Founder of TeleMutants, a technology company, and Co-Founder and Chief Architect of TeleConvex, a two-way communications platform.

Usman Khan | Peshawar, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa
Usman Khan is the founder of Emperor’s Bazaar, a business venture with the sole goal of reviving Pakistan’s crafts sector. Convinced that consumers will be inspired by the profound stories behind Pakistan’s artisans and their products, Usman hopes that Emperor’s Bazaar will magnify their goods, sustain their craft, and improve their livelihood.

Zahra Ali | Karachi, Sindh
Zahra Ali is a clinical psychologist and social scientist keen on dispelling the stigma around mental illness throughout her community. Zahra aspires to expand accessible community mental health clinic services throughout Pakistan, especially to vulnerable populations such as adolescents and victims of trauma, religious intolerance, and gender inequality.

Zulqarnain Jameel | Gujranwala, Punjab
Zulqarnain Jameel is a social entrepreneur and technology expert committed to the idea that every child deserves an education. Zulqarnain founded the Tent School System in 2015, which provides education to children residing in the slums of Islamabad by harnessing online tools and a collaborative learning pedagogy. His mission is to equip disadvantaged Pakistani youth with both the practical skills to compete in Pakistan’s bourgeoning technology sector while also teaching the problem-solving techniques to ensure gainful employment in the future.