By Seher Mohsin
The first of LUMS Quarterly Debates, modeled on the Oxford Union Public Business Meeting style of debate, took place on Wednesday, 5th of November in the Saeed Saigol (SS) auditorium at 7pm. The motion for the debate was:
“This house believes that Pakistan should adopt a hard line policy, curbing all engagements with India given recent events”
Aimun Faisal, director projects of the Debates and Recitations Society at LUMS, was the chief organizer of the event alongside dean MGHSS Kamal Munir, who approached the society at the society fair earlier in the year, hoping to organize an event that would one day be at par with events hosted by the Oxford Union itself. Given the list of speakers, it seemed likely to happen.
Mr. Ayaz Amir and former foreign secretary Mr. Shamshad Ahmad spoke as proposition, and were joined by eminent military analyst, Ms Ayesha Siddiqui and chairman PCB Shaharyar Khan who brought forth the view of the opposition. Representing LUMS on both benches were President Drums, Nawal Tauqeer and Director Debates, Humza Jami, while current Vice President, Amir Qazi was the chairperson.
The Oxford Union Public Business Meeting style of debate basically involves three speakers for and against the motion. Proposition is the house that wants to adopt the motion, while the opposition is against its implementation. After every two speakers – one proposition and one opposition, there is a short question answer session. After the last two speakers and the subsequent question and answer session there is a vote in order to decide which house has won.
Ms Faisal was delighted to see that the auditorium was packed but given the list of prominent speakers it was hardly surprising. Interestingly enough, it was reported that people in the computer labs had been talking eagerly about the speakers that would attend the event!
As the speakers arrived and were ushered into the Executive Dining Hall (EDH), the auditorium filled up. People were made to stand at the back of the hall and sit on the ground in the front, and some were even turned away.
The debate began with the student speakers, Tauqeer and Jami, ho set up the flow of conversation. They were followed by Ayaz Amir and Shaharyar Khan, and then Shamshad Ahmad and Ayesha Siddiqui. Despite the well thought out arguments presented by each side, it boiled down to the same thing. And as Kamal Munir pointed out at the end:
when you have a group of sensible people talking about something, they all come down to the middle ground. In this case, Pakistan must protect its own interests in whatever way it can, whether that means sitting on the negotiating table, or sitting far from it.
After the vote (…and this is a democracy after all), the motion passed by 103 votes versus 101 votes for opposition.