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Thursday, February 15, 2024

Politics everywhere: Pakistan’s debating team

News Analysis |

Just two weeks away from the 2017 edition of The World Schools Debating Championship (WSDC), the Debating Circuit of Pakistan has made massive changes in the lineup of the speakers, thereby causing an uproar within the debating community of the country. Two of the five speakers have been removed from the team and have been replaced by members of the reserve team.

Mohazzab Abdullah and Sarim Karim were selected to represent team Pakistan among others after coming out as members of the top 5 parliamentary debaters in the country. They outperformed hundreds of other debaters and then remained in the lead after the rigorous Pakistan National camp. In the past few months, they had set aside all other priorities by attending debating tournaments across the country and the various training camps.

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“If they weren’t good enough to be in Pakistan team, that should have been identified when selection camp took place. The only difference that has taken place has been three months of Pakistan camp, which has regressed them as speakers if they deserve to be demoted.
This problem isn’t as black and white as just telling speakers to be a part of the reserve team, it’s the families who spent time and money sending their children to another city just so they can learn from the countries best and if the only thing they have achieved is become inadequate to compete then they have the right to question the functioning of the society as a whole. 
I have to deal with upset students and an upset administration for the entire day, furthermore if we hold meetings to vote upon the slightest of changes why is this decision so different now? ” commented Abdullah Khan, school coach of the removed speakers on a Social Media post

On a public post on his Facebook account, one of the removed speakers expressed his discontent with the team management. He criticized the training procedures for putting him in situations which impeded his performance, including being put under emotional distress. He stated that if his performance was deemed unsatisfactory after being selected for the team, he should have been benched rather than be removed without notice.

It was at such a crucial time that the two speakers were given the news that they would no longer be representing the team they had managed to get into. Allegedly, the parents of the speakers and the speakers themselves were not provided with any justification for their removal. The Debating Society of Pakistan (D.S.P), which is the national organization responsible for the selection and training of the team has not released any public declaration of the move, nor any explanation for it thus far.

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“Yes, the technicalities may allow for a coach to make this decision, and yes, this coach has made passing remarks about the potential need for a reshuffling with a grin on his face, but what matters is what I was reasonably lead to believe given over a decade of convention. NOBODY has been thrown off the team before. NOBODY on the circuit thinks that being thrown off is a genuine concern unless there are disciplinary issues.” – Part of the social media post by one of the removed speakers

Every year a parliamentary debate National tournament is organized by the D.S.P and schools from all around the country participate in it. From all of the speakers, the top 20 speakers are sent to a National training camp from which the top 5 speakers are selected to represent the country in the World Schools Debating Championships which takes place in a different country each year. In the 2016 edition which was held in Singapore, the Pakistan team performed brilliantly by making it into the semifinals of the tournament and making a name for the country in the international sphere.

After the brilliant precedence set by the last year’s team, the debating community of Pakistan was rooting for an even better performance at this year’s tournament in Indonesia. It is likely that the sudden changes at this late stage will affect the performance of the team.

Team Pakistan 2016