Four young Ismailis from Pakistan have been appointed onto the 33-member National Youth Council (NYC) recently established by the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan. The council’s mandate is to work for the upliftment of Pakistani youth and influence national policy and decision-making. Its members are prominent figures from various fields including Education, Sports, Religion, Economics, and the Arts. 

The NYC aims to support young people to get involved in their communities and democracy locally, nationally, and internationally, and strive to make a difference as volunteers, campaigners, decision-makers, and leaders.

Representing different parts of Pakistan, young Ismailis Samina Baig, Karishma Ali, Sonal Dhanani, and Khurram Lalani have been nominated for the National Youth Council, and will serve to empower young people in the country who have been deprived of economic opportunities; aiming to create more sustainable livelihoods for all.

Samina Baig, from Gojal, Gilgit-Baltistan, is the first Pakistani woman to conquer Mount Everest, and first to conquer The Seven Summits, all at the age of 23. Her training in mountaineering began from the age of 15 aided by her brother, Mirza Ali, also an accomplished mountaineer. The siblings have jointly-founded an NGO called Pakistan Youth Outreach, which aims to promote gender equality through education and adventure sports among women and youth in Pakistan. 

Karishma Ali, who hails from Chitral, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, is a professional footballer and has represented Pakistan at International level. She is among five Pakistanis who have appeared on the Forbes 30 Under 30 Asia 2019 list, for her efforts to promote sports at a local level. She represented Pakistan at the Jubilee Games in Dubai in 2016, and her team was the first women’s team from Pakistan to participate in the AFL International Cup. 

Sonal Dhanani, from Sindh, is a neuro-linguistic programming trainer and art therapy practitioner in Pakistan. She actively promotes education, mental health initiatives and social action in Pakistan. Sonal is a 2016 Atlantic council Fellow, and among 29 change makers from South Asia participating in the Young Connectors of the Future programme of the Swedish Institute. She currently works as a Project Manager with the Family Educational and Services Foundation. In 2015, she established an initiative entitled Parindey which focuses on healing communities through creative therapy. An active volunteer with the Aga Khan Youth and Sports Board, she uses arts and culture as a tool to serve the Jamat and wider humanity.

Khurram Lalani, also from Sindh, graduated as a Fulbright scholar with a master’s degree in Energy Policy from the University of Delaware in 2013. He is an energy and infrastructure consultant with over ten years of experience in international finance, sustainable development, and energy policy issues, and has served as a senior economic and policy advisor to the Federal Ministries of Finance, Energy, and Climate Change, among various other provincial government assignments. In addition, Khurram founded Consuldents, a graduate student opportunities platform, where Pakistani students can work on short-term industry projects and competitions, search for scholarships and fellowships, share their final year projects for mentoring and feedback, and apply to exclusive graduate jobs and internships.

Youth Ministers from all provinces will be part of the NYC, along with notable national figures and youth icons. Prime Minister Imran Khan will serve as the Patron-In-Chief, while Usman Dar, the current Special Adviser on Youth Affairs has been nominated as Chairman of the Council.