Islamabad: A young survivor of Peshawar’s Army Public School (APS) December 2014 terrorist attack has won laurels for Pakistan as he has been elected President of the Oxford University’s debating society, commonly referred to as Oxford Union, the prestigious forum which is considered a nursery for the future leaders of the world.
Ahmad Nawaz survived the massacre as he pretended to be dead among heaps of bodies.
According to 21-year old Nawaz who is studying philosophy and theology at Lady Margaret Hall, the same college that was attended by Malala Yousafzai, another survivor of Taliban attack in Swat in 2012, he had been waiting for the moment for last couple of years.
“I was determined and when I came to Oxford I was quite ambitious but I never thought I would get involved with the union,” he said. This shows there is no limit to achieve your goals whatever background you are form, he said.
Nawaz has a distinguished academic record with an ‘A’ grade at English General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE), a secondary school qualification in Britain.
One of the biggest ‘free speech’ forums
The Oxford Union is “one of the biggest free speech platforms in the world.” It is a debating society in the city of Oxford, England, and its membership is drawn primarily from the University of Oxford.
Founded in 1823, it is one of Britain’s oldest university unions and one of the world’s most prestigious private students’ societies. The Oxford Union exists independently from the university and is distinct from the Oxford University Student Union.
On his Twitter account, Ahmad Nawaz shared the news and pledged that during his tenure, he would invite the world leaders to “debate the most pressing issues, empowering young people through this platform & upholding freedom of speech.”
Ahmad Nawaz is not the first Pakistani to become the president of the Oxford Union. Former Prime Minister of Pakistan Benazir Bhutto, who was assassinated in 2007 during an election rally in Rawalpindi, also led the debating society back in 1977. She was the first Asian woman to hold the title.
President, PM congratulate Ahmad
President Dr Arif Alvi, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and former premier Imran Khan in their separate messages have congratulated Ahmad Nawaz over the singular honour and termed it quite inspiring for the youth of Pakistan.
“I congratulate Ahmad Nawaz, an APS survivor who also lost his brother Haris in the heinous Peshawar massacre, on being elected as President of Oxford Union. We must register that despite all setbacks Pakistan will keep on shining & rising,” said President Alvi in his twitter message.
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif also congratulated Ahmad Nawaz and termed his election as President of Oxford Union a “great honour & inspiring journey fuelled by determination & sheer will power.” He has set an example worthy of emulation by our youth, the PM said in a tweet.
Ahmad has made Pakistan proud
Former Prime Minister and Leader of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Imran Khan in a tweet sent congratulations to Ahmad Nawaz saying the brave young man who survived the 2014 APS terrorist attack was an inspiration for all. “Ahmad you make us all proud with your spirit & determination reflected in your continuing achievements,” said Imran Khan.
Ahmad was 14 years old when he lost his younger brother Haris on December 16, 2014 when the Taliban terrorists attacked Peshawar’s Army Public School — a school that teaches boys and girls of the parents hailing from both military and civilian backgrounds.
On the fateful day, seven Taliban assailants wearing bomb vests cut through a wire fence to gain entry to the school, and launched an attack on an auditorium where children were taking an exam.
It was one of the worst assaults in the country’s recent history and the gunmen then went from room to room, shooting pupils and teachers in a siege that lasted eight hours.
The attack left 141 persons dead. Of those killed 132 were students.
Ahmad Nawaz while pretending to be dead lay still under the heaps of bodies. His arm was severely injured but he held his breath lest they should come to know he was alive. Later, when the military men took over and all the terrorists killed, he was rescued. Since his arm needed immediate surgery it was a complex one too, he was flown to the UK for treatment.