WASHINGTON, DC – The Atlantic Council’s South Asia Center and US Embassy Islamabad are pleased to announce the 2016 Emerging Leaders of Pakistan (ELP) Fellows.   

ELP seeks to empower the next generation of Pakistan’s leaders who are working in varying capacities to counter violent extremism. 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 29 to November 18, with stops in New York City; Washington, DC; Detroit; and San Francisco.  This year’s program focuses on countering violent extremism through meetings with individuals and organizations who can impart practical experience and learnings for the fellows to apply to their own work. In addition, their visit aims to strengthen relations between Americans and Pakistanis by addressing misperceptions on both sides of the relationship and build a network of peers in Pakistan for future collaboration. 

This year’s cohort 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, minority rights activists, aspiring politicians, and tech innovators who are working to solve some of Pakistan’s most critical 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 policymakers, practitioners, civil society, diaspora communities, development organizations, as well as others, who can inspire them with ideas to address some of Pakistan’s most pressing challenges. The Atlantic Council will host a public panel discussion with the fellows on Wednesday, November 9 from 4:30 to 6:00 p.m. 

This project is funded by the Community Engagement Office, Public Affairs section of the US Embassy in Islamabad. 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 Shamaila Ashraf at SAshraf@AtlanticCouncil.org.

Meet the 2016 Emerging Leaders of Pakistan Fellows 

Anza Saqib | Karachi, Sindh

Anza is promoting a positive image of Pakistan through art and technology. A lawyer by training, she joined Pursukoon Karachi to tackle the negative image of Karachi that has unfolded in recent years. As the social media coordinator for Pursukoon, Anza is constantly working at the intersection of art and technology to develop new ways to promote inclusion and counter violent ideologies. 

Ayub Ayubi | Rawalapindi, Punjab

Ayub is a social activist and founder of Renaissance by Social Innovation, Pakistan (RESIP). His work with RESIP focuses on using education and mentorship to engage youth and vulnerable populations. He also launched the Mashal-e-Rah Campaign to counter ideological extremism on campuses across Pakistan, and currently engages over 1500 students through the initiative.

Sajid Shah | Mardan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa

Sajid completed his post graduate studies in electrical engineering but his true passion lies in entrepreneurship and solving social problems. His entrepreneurial spirit has led him to launch two startups, a digital media company, Ohyrus, and an award-winning data visualization firm called Silk Route Interactive. He established Empower Pakistan, an organization that aims to train women and youth through digital literacy and employment.

Eilaf Zehra | Lahore, Punjab

Eilaf is working on Peacetech Exchanges, a joint initiative between TPI and the United States Institute of Peace. Eilaf organizes three-day conferences that bring together civil society organizations and technologists to develop innovative technological tools for conflict resolution and peacebuilding.

Obaid ul Mohsin | Nowshera, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa

Obaid is a multimedia artist with expertise ranging from comics, animation, commercials, games, motion graphics, and website production, He is currently a senior creative designer at Creative Frontiers, where he works with a team on the comic book series Paasban – The Guardian, a comic book that tackles the topic of extremism.

Rosheena Khan Kiani | Rawalpindi, Punjab

Rosheena is the chief executive officer of Words in Action, a nonprofit organization utilizing the social entrepreneurship model to empower marginalized people. She firmly believes that social disparity can only be addressed and resolved through equal access to resources. Her primary vehicle for empowering people is through social entrepreneurship.

Saqib Tanveer | Islamabad Capital Territory

Saqib is a broadcast journalist currently working with Pakistan’s largest news channel, Geo News. He is heading the research team of Pakistan’s most watched weekend show, Naya Pakistan with Talat Hussain. Prior to joining Geo News, Saqib was a Young Development Fellow with the Government of Pakistan’s Ministry of Planning, where he was a member of the Peace and Development Unit to counter extremism.

Sonal Dhanani | Karachi, Sindh

Sonal conducts “Jugnoo,” an Aga Khan Youth and Sports Board camp for children between ages eight and thirteen. Sonal combines art and music therapy into camp sessions to create an inclusive and supportive environment. She believes rote education must be bolstered with critical thinking, ethical reasoning, and idea exchange.

Fizzah Khan | Karachi, Sindh

Fizzah is the founder and chief executive officer of Creative Brains, an organization that cultivates entrepreneurship in underprivileged and underrepresented communities in Pakistan. She works directly with poverty-stricken individuals to support small startups through skills training and market consultancy, research and strategy, and virtual mentorship.

Haris Badar | Swat, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa

Haris founded Pakhtun Wardrobe, a platform that connects disaster-affected artisans with national and international markets to encourage a revitalization of their craft and to stimulate economic development. He is also among the 500 Global Youth Ambassadors, from across the globe, working with A World at School [UK]. 

Naveed Hameed | Sheikhupura, Punjab

Naveed serves as an activist, documentary filmmaker, and facilitator in the media and development sector. Naveed promotes peace and tolerance through his documentary films and conducts capacity building workshops for the organizations working for peace, harmony, and minority rights. Naveed founded SOCH, an organization which raises the voice of underrepresented and neglected communities in Pakistan. 

Sheran Khan | Khanozai, Balochistan

Sheran began working in the nongovernmental sector after studying education and psychology at Forman Christian College in Lahore.  Sheran started the Global Youth Network for Education and Peace that connects young adults from various countries to promote youth engagement. The initiative conducts trainings for youth on advocacy, active citizenship, and counter extremism.

Shahraiz A. Malik | Rawalpindi, Punjab

Shahraiz is the cofounder of the Nadir Foundation, a nonprofit organization that established the Nadir Girls Higher Secondary School in Pachnand. The school provides state of the art educational facilities in science and technology to girls in his village. Shahraiz is also the Chairman of the Standing Committee on Young Entrepreneurs at the Rawalpindi Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Syed Hasan Haider | Chiniot, Punjab

Hasan is a documentary filmmaker and photographer from Karachi. After graduating from the National College of Arts, he joined Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy Films in Karachi as an associate producer and sound engineer. His work has been screened at Film Festivals around the world, including HOT DOCS Documentary Festival, Thailand International Film Destination Festival, and IBDA’A Awards.

Wajeeha Riaz | Islamabad Capital Territory

Wajeeha worked in the Women’s Parliamentary Caucus as a young parliamentary associate, where she organized a series of seminars highlighting women and the challenges they face. The series analyzed the impact of violent extremism on women, the challenges hindering women from playing a meaningful role in society, and focused on legislative tools to ensure full participation of women in political and economic life.