Mustafaen Kamal

Founder of the Dil internship Project

Every now and then one encounters ideas that are intoxicating, ideas that seem to push you into action without much thought or planning. For me, this occurred when creating the Dil Internship Project.

For too long has the notion of helping Pakistan been synonymous with volunteering at a charity or a non-profit organisation. Of course, this is necessary. But the idea that Pakistan only needs charity is false; it is a natural destination for your skills and talents too.

The Project is designed to provide, both, foreign nationals and diaspora Pakistanis with the opportunity to intern with exciting Pakistani companies (in Karachi, Islamabad, Lahore and Dubai). This internship is complemented with a whole host of experiences designed to showcase a holistic and varied impression of Pakistan. When starting the Project, I was passionate about creating a home-grown, authentic and accurate image of Pakistan. We are working towards this in several ways.

Firstly, the range of businesses we are working with really traverse a whole spectrum of sectors and industries. For example, Artistic Apparels is largely responsible for the success of the Pakistani Textile Industry for the last 50 years. The company has survived exogenous shocks, foreign exchange hits, opaque regulation and an unstable political environment to become of the most successful ambassadors of Pakistani commerce. We are also lucky to be working with Aster School which is revolutionizing the way that Pakistan educates children; the founder Falak Shaikhani has definitely left no detail spare in choreographing an innovative and immersive approach to primary education.

In the Capital, Islamabad, our partnership with Jamal and Jamal has been a home run. The interns that have been part of our first batch to the country have had nothing but positive remarks regarding the professionalism, quality and quantity of work. What separates Jamal and Jamal from its competitors is that it’s truly firing on all cylinders. Not only does it have a heavy duty commercial practice but it’s also devoted a lot of resources into building a well-oiled Pro Bono initiative that provides much needed access to legal services for those in need. I, of course, have left out many of our other partners but we’re truly blessed to be working with the finest Pakistani businesses there are and we are always on the lookout for further opportunities to bring the World to Pakistan. This effort was bolstered with our partnership with the world’s leading strategy consulting firm, which offered an invaluable networking opportunity for the interns who were amazed at private sector initiatives that are transforming the Nation.

Work is just one segment of our offering. We want interns to take away an image of Pakistan that is inclusive and complete. We don’t want to confirm the monolithic portrayal of the country that the Media is guilty of propagating and nor do we sugar-coat the areas of Pakistan that need development. We take meticulous care in organising our city tours so that no stone is unturned in showing candidates what Pakistan is all about, our Karachi interns visited the largest Hindu Temple in Pakistan as well as the Karachi Parsi center on their tour of the city. Both these communities have been absolutely vital to the Nation’s progress, but too often are they ignored in Pakistan’s self-portrayal.

The Project is also keen to show homegrown examples of excellence in Pakistan which are starved of the attention they deserve. For example, our interns have had a tour of Payam-e-Taleem Educational Center which seeks to provide education to those who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford it – it has literally transformed lives with some of their alumni becoming doctors and seeking further education abroad. We also are able to showcase homegrown talent with interns networking with Pakistani designers and musicians who have a strong following domestically but are just waiting for that nexus abroad. A highlight this year's cohort was a visit to Hum TV, Pakistan's largest broadcaster - it was an amazing initiative to re-calibrate the interns' image of Pakistan and what goes into creating a media machine in Pakistan. They even got to attend the Premiere of Superstar, a film produced by Hum TV. I can't wait to showcase equally bright examples of Pakistani artistry next year.

All in all, the Dil Internship Project is a win for all concerned. We are working towards normalizing Pakistan and irreversibly moving the narrative away from saving, and towards building. With our first cohort approaching an end, I sincerely hope we will be able to build on our success next year. Please do get in touch with any questions or suggestions – we’re open to all!

- Mustafaen Kamal, Founder of the Dil Internship Project.