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From Tragedy to Triumph - the story of Ahmad Nawaz

On 16th December 2014, Ahmad Nawaz’s school, Army Public School was attacked by a group of Taliban gunmen. They massacred 151 people, mostly children, including Ahmad’s younger brother Haris. Having witnessed his brother murdered right in front of his eyes, Ahmad had no choice but to play dead to survive for he knew he was next.

Ahmad survived at the cost of getting shot in the arm to the extent where it looked as if his arm would have to be amputated. For this reason he was flown to the UK for treatment. His time in hospital gave him the opportunity to reflect. ‘I used to think “why did this attack even happen? Why would anyone attack children in schools?”’ says Ahmad. ‘And then I realized that the terrorists want to stop us from educating ourselves so we can be easily brainwashed.’ Having lived through a traumatic experience at the hands of terrorists, Ahmad was determined to change the narrative and ensure students do not join such groups.

"If I can inspire just one student and change the way they think, that is a success for me." Ahmad attended Debate Academy in 2017 and enjoyed discussing issues not typically covered in the school curriculum. He is also keen to encourage others to speak up about their experiences. ‘Someone asked me how they could get the courage to speak out,’ he says. ‘I responded that speaking out isn’t difficult; you just have to speak from your heart. If every one of us speaks out about what we think is wrong in our society, we can change it.’ Ahmad then fought his way through his past to a bright future ahead where he became President of Oxford Union.

Through leadership at one of the world's foremost debating societies, Ahmad not only triumphed over personal trauma but also demonstrated a commitment to intellectual discourse and positive change. The narrative of his life stands as a beacon of inspiration, proving that even in the face of unthinkable challenges, one can rise to extraordinary heights.

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