What Were You Doing at the Age of 18?
I, Asra Jamshed Khan, am a young girl with diverse skills, I was brought up in an under-privileged area of Karachi, Pakistan. In a male-dominated society, it was difficult for me to do something very innovative or even to attain higher education, but I didn’t hold back.
I laid the foundation of an organization by the name of Iqbal Kay Shaheen at a very young age. At the age when kids are busy playing and living a carefree life, I was working for the betterment of the nation. I had to face many challenges; how could “a girl” become a social activist? How could “a girl” think of bringing change? How could “a girl” stand side by side with men?
I had no financial support at all; the only thing I had was enthusiasm and determination. Friends of my age left me, as the work I wanted them to participate in was too “boring” for them. The only support I had was my mother. I was not allowed to take help from any boy for the organization’s outdoor work or even to register them as members. Unfortunately, I couldn’t manage outdoor work myself, as I was not allowed to take a single step out of my home alone. It seemed like all the doors were closed.
But I kept doing the work, with the help of my extraordinarily supportive mother and sister. Gradually, my father started to support me too, and helped me in outdoor work. As time passed, my whole family started to support me. I believe that my determination and sincerity made everyone realize that there is nothing wrong if a girl follows her dream and works for humanity.
My enthusiasm and devotional love of my country took Iqbal Kay Shaheen to the peaks of success; in just three years, IKS became a global organization. Now I am heading a team of highly motivated and intellectual youngsters; our core team consists of 5 girls and 12 boys, and our registered members and followers are in the thousands.
I am building a bond between Iqbaliyat and the youth under the prestigious guidance of Allama Iqbal’s grandson, Mian Iqbal Salahuddin. I am also a well-known debater and 2013 gold medalist on the national level. I have won several awards, as well. I was awarded as one of the “Youth Champions of Pakistan 2015.” My success story is inspiring many youngsters through books, websites, and TV and radio interviews.
The sole objective of my organization is close to my heart; we seek to educate the deprived children of our country and to develop leadership qualities in them. Our new generation are losing their moral values day by day. We cry for better leaders, but we never realize that if we start developing leadership qualities in our children today, we can get better leaders tomorrow—because if you want a fruitful tree tomorrow, you have to plant the seed today! All the issues for which we start campaigns will be resolved under better leadership.