One week as a curiosity on the international political stage in Pakistan
Two students from Chemnitz participated as delegates in the largest UN simulation of Pakistan in Islamabad
Two students of the current NMUN delegation of TU Chemnitz participated from 22nd to 25th January 2014 in the NIMUN conference (International Model United Nations) of the National University of Science and Technology (NUST) in Islamabad and represented Germany in the UN Security Council. For `Uni aktuell´ Maj-Britt Krone and Stefan Heilmann who both are studying European Studies report on their experiences and impressions in Pakistan:
At the Hamburg Model United Nation (HamMUN) simulation in November 2013 we got into contact with a delegation from Pakistan. On the last day each delegate was allowed to present his university and one of the students from Pakistan told us about the NIMUN, a simulation in Islamabad and the scholarship that each foreign student would receive. He was very surprised when two German students afterwards asked him for registration. After receiving the acceptance from him and the National University of Science and Technology (NUST) we organized as fast as possible the flights and visas and one month later everything was settled.
On 20th January we arrived in Pakistan and soon after landing at the baggage claim area in Islamabad we recognized that we would be exotics in the coming week. Our skin was whiter, our clothes more western style and all the other people there waiting for their relatives were definitely not waiting for a red-haired woman or a man who was at least one and a half heads taller than everybody else. NUST students picked us up and separated by gender we left the airport by minibus. The men were driven directly to the hostels on the campus of NUST and the women in the private home of a female student.
The NUST is located in one of the sectors of the capital Islamabad, which is a checkered planned city based on the American model. The University is one of the best universities in the country and is a military funded institution. All university buildings are so widely spread over the campus that some students partially cover distances by car. Within this university sector were also the university hostels, where the delegates were staying. As international guests we were lucky to move into one of the teacher`s accommodations. So we enjoyed our own apartments with breakfast service, which was not granted to any of the local participants. Together with another German student who should take over the chair of a committee we were the only Europeans and everyone wanted to take pictures with us and assailed us with questions. They compared us with celebrities like Kirsten Dunst or Gareth Bale. Besides the Pakistani participants there were also guests from Saudi Arabia, Nepal, Kenya and Jordan participating in the simulation.
Before the sessions started, we went shopping with some Pakistanis and got some typical Pakistani garments which met sympathy and approval by the natives. After the opening ceremony as well as after the closing ceremony the international participants were invited for tea with the director of NUST, the main organizers of the NIMUN and the guest of honor, the Pakistani ambassador to the United States.
On the first day of the NIMUN we met our chairs and the other delegates in our committee for the first time. We represented Germany in the UN Security Council. Within the next few days we discussed the conflict in Syria. We talked about the victims, discussed the mistakes of Assad’s government and developed in two blocks various draft resolutions that we could merge at the last minute to a joint resolution. The debates were on the whole constructive. As with any MUN simulations the quality of the discussions and speeches increased from day to day. We also noticed favorably that everybody on the campus respected the rule to speak only English. This was a great advantage for us and for the Pakistanis no problem as they are taught at university in English and are able to speak this language fluently.
Every evening an event took place. For the start there was a cultural evening in a huge tent where each delegation could present the country they were representing at the simulation. Fortunately for us Stefan had his leather pants with him and the presentation was a success. At the second night there was a kind of outdoor amusement place with a Ferris wheel and swing boat, very much food, music and traditional dance. The second to the last evening was amazing. To a formal dinner with the theme "Cirque du Soleil" a long evening dress and suit were requested. The women were dressed in their most beautiful clothes and it was a glamorous and unforgettable evening. At the evening of the last session there was a concert of traditional Pakistani music. It was exhilarating. It was an indescribable feeling of happiness. We had put on (attracted our) traditional clothes and danced with the Pakistanis all night long.
The hospitality of Pakistanis was really incredible. Everybody took care of us. There was always someone available and we felt safe all the time. Our hosts were very concerned about our safety and only on the last day we had the opportunity to visit the Faisal Mosque and some traditional shops. In the evening we had dinner at the Monal Mountain. We ate traditional food and had an amazing view of Islamabad at night.
The participation in the NIMUN enabled us to get to know great and open-minded people, to speak continuously English and to dispel some prejudices against Pakistan and its people. We did never regret our decision to go to Pakistan and would fly again if possible. We recommend to everybody to swallow one’s pride and to give the Pakistani who have to deal with day-to-day violence and terrorism a chance, to convince yourselves what great people they are and how much the youth yearns for a more open democratically political structures.
After eight days in Islamabad we flew back with new impressions and presents but also sad as we had to leave our new friends.
Schukria - thank you!
(Authors: Maj-Britt Krone and Stefan Heilmann, Translation: Jakob Landwehr)