New York Welcomes the Emerging Leaders of Pakistan
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They come from Karachi, Lahore, Peshawar and Quetta. They fly Army jets, found theater companies, open bakeries and launch websites. And each year, fifteen of these outstanding young Pakistanis embark on their very first trip to the United States to meet with policymakers, community leaders, diaspora communities, and regional experts as part of the Carnegie Corporation-sponsored Emerging Leaders of Pakistan (ELP) Fellowship Program. Their journey begins in New York City with visits to the headquarters of Senator Kirsten Gillebrand, Buzzfeed, The New York Times, City Hall, the Harlem Children’s Zone, and the Corporation for a meeting with President Vartan Gregorian before heading off to the United Nations. From New York they travel to Washington, D.C. and Detroit, finishing up their cross-country trek in San Francisco.
The ELP program, which began in 2012, is run by the South Asia Center of the Atlantic Council. Aimed at empowering the next generation of Pakistan’s leaders, it identifies, cultivates, and supports young people in Pakistan who have the potential to guide the country’s future by offering them resources and opportunities to strengthen their engagement within civil society. The program provides a safe, central space for young leaders to network with each other, exchange ideas, and build long term collaborative relationships. During their three-week visit to the United States, participants interact with policymakers, civil society leaders, heads of for-profit and nonprofit businesses, journalists, educators, and others, absorbing best practices and lessons learned they can adapt to their own context in Pakistan.
ELP Fellows are selected from a growing pool of qualified applicants. Key qualities are perseverance, leadership, and demonstrated initiative in spearheading activities to benefit their communities and country. Their CVs are impressive, ranging from fighting to protect victims of domestic violence, to bridging ethnic differences in remote communities, to running campaigns to protect fragile ecosystems. In addition to their religious, geographic, and ethnic diversity, the fellows are between the ages of 18-30, were born and currently reside in Pakistan, and have never traveled to the US or Europe.