Alumni profile - Majeed Lashari
Studying on a Chevening Scholarship at Queen Mary was a once in a lifetime opportunity. Being chosen as Queen Mary’s Chevening Chapter leader is an honour. Personally, it has already helped me relive many precious moments from one of the best years of my life.
(Public International Law LLM, 2017)
Why did you choose to study an LLM in Public International law at Queen Mary?
I came to London, accompanied by my better half Atikah Lashari, in August 2016 on a Chevening Scholarship. Queen Mary ranked number one in Law (Guardian) and offered a plethora of specialisms to choose from, manifold more than the other universities where I had been offered a place. I chose Public International Law (PIL) as it encompasses my learning strengths and interests. PIL is based on legally governing state relationships and world affairs/conflicts within the ambit of the UN Charter. As a discipline it is the pinnacle of man-made macro laws and political efforts in resolving macro world issues. Furthermore, studying at Queen Mary was most practical. The specialised Centre for Commercial Law Studies (CCLS) located at Holborn gives Queen Mary a perfect presence in central London. My housing was at Leinster Gardens (W26DP) with Queensway and Bayswater stations at arms-length on my high-street, hence I could take the tube without switch overs even when I had to attend classes at the Mile End Campus. My university commute was straightforward and convenient and Hyde Park, Oxford Street, and W1 were all on our doorstep and within walking distance. Atikah and I explored the magnificence of life in central London as a young married couple and made memories that will last us a lifetime. This impeccable location factor makes studying at Queen Mary doubly attractive to Londoners.
When you made the choice to study Public International Law at Queen Mary, did you have a particular career path in mind?
Absolutely! Clarity of thought towards ones goals is imperative. The degree was advantageous in cementing certain aspects of my career and work. I wanted to further establish myself as an educationist and columnist. The completion of my studies has enabled me to head the International Law Department at Pakistan’s most prestigious and well-known Law School - TILS (The Institute of Legal Studies – an affiliate of the University of London International LLB Programme). Since I have returned to Pakistan after my LLM, my opinion and analysis pieces have been regularly published in leading Pakistani English newspapers like The Nation, Daily Times, and Express Tribune etc.
What did you enjoy most about studying this degree and were there any academics that had a strong influence on shaping your time and studies here?
The learning environment at Queen Mary was a treat due to the diversity of students in the classroom. Multiculturalism and pluralism were cornerstones to discussion, enhancement of thought and critique in the classroom, especially the International Criminal Law and pure Public International Law (use of force) classes that were taught by Phoebe Okowa. She steered the discourse in such a manner that we all argued and learnt as friends and not foes.
I am recognised by and advise (at times closely work with) many leaders and decision makers serving at the top of the executive arm of my province and the federation.
You were involved in different leadership roles and won lots of awards during your time at Queen Mary, how did you manage these activities and your studies for an excellent outcome?
Multi-tasking and organisation are skills to develop as you grow up. Throw in a natural tendency towards versatility and diverse learning opportunities and it becomes a lifestyle. I genuinely wanted my LLM experience to be wholesome; hence I enjoyed the lectures and worked hard to attain excellent marks in the exams and dissertation, but not without participating in everything that Queen Mary’s Students’ Union (QMSU) and co-curricular had to offer. Winning the Student Representative election or being bestowed with the prestigious student Engagement Award at the award ceremony was honestly all due to the votes and faith of my peers and batch-mates. I am humbled and thankful for their encouragement.
You are currently involved in a lot of roles, from lecturing, to owning your own law firm, to human rights advocacy, and columnist. How do you manage to excel in all these roles?
Hard work, focus and discipline go hand in hand. I mentioned working as a Lecturer for International Law. I also teach public (constitutional) law at TILS. So, apart from the three hours I take out on Tuesdays and Thursdays to fulfil my passion for lecturing, you can either find me arguing a case in court or at the Firm’s office from 8am till 5pm Monday to Saturday. I also take up pro-bono human rights cases and use my network to further the causes and the voices of the downtrodden (as much as I possibly can) via the media. Writing is a form of expression; issues are uncountable in my beloved country and a problem solver needs an outlet to discuss ideas and solutions, therefore my work ethic entails researching for and jotting down articles in the evenings.
How has your human rights activism impacted your career so far and how have these activisms affected policy changes in Pakistan?
In August 2014, we led a civil society protest that turned into a sit-in lasting 119 days. The political party (PTI) of the now Prime Minister Imran Khan had initiated the protest in the Federal Capital (Islamabad) and a few days later, inspired by his bold stance of demanding Electoral Reforms in Pakistan, I called upon my personal network of close friends, family, students and even staff to come out and stage a parallel protest at Lalik Chowk, in the heart of the provincial Capital (Lahore) where I am based. The aim was to further International human Rights contained in the ICESR/ICCPR and enshrined in the Constitution. The sit-in went viral, DHA residents and Lahories heard the call and came out in numbers, the mainstream media gathered and the rest is history. To sustain the spark and convert it into a meaningful ripple, we stealthily organised into a team and later even coordinated and collaborated with the PTI leadership and workers on ground who joined us.
Since then the journey has continued. In 2018, General Elections were conducted and the ballot-box put PTI in power. I never joined PTI nor active politics, however this relationship with PTI has only matured and grown. I am recognised by and advise (at times closely work with) many leaders and decision makers serving at the top of the executive arm of my province and the federation. For instance; my two-piece article on grave violations of human rights of Kashmiris (published in The Nation in October 2019), was discussed and promoted by Federal Parliamentary Secretary for Kashmir Affairs & GB Sobia Kamal Khan in the Federal Kashmir Committee when formulating state policy at a crucial juncture.
As Chevening Chapter Leader for Pakistan I foresee increased usage of the Queen Mary Network to further promote interconnectivity, solidarity and a sense of communal belonging.
What do you love most about what you do and how does your job allow you to explore your passions?
I am an extrovert; I try and live life upbeat and I love positively influencing society in any way I can. My passions surpass the commonplace material and manifest, dwelling into the realm of playing an active part in the collective betterment of human beings. All aspects of my work life help contribute in one way or another towards furthering my perpetual underlying aim of seeing positive growth, democratic evolution and change in my surroundings.
What was special about your time at Queen Mary? Can you give one or two examples of your most memorable moments?
The wholesome entirety of the experience at Queen Mary was most special. Obtaining special official permission with the help of Igor Gavran, whereby Atikah was exceptionally allowed to attend QMSU’s 2017 Course Representative Education Awards held in the dazzling Drapers Hall in Central London was certainly very memorable. I was showered with accolades and praise that night and got to share the moment with my wife. On the other end of the spectrum, Queen Mary’s friends got together for a last farewell party at Mile End’s Drapers. That night was the most fun I remember having inside the university campus, exclusively with friends from the LLM batch. Even the journey back to Queensway with my best friend from Queen Mary, neighbour and fellow Londoner Nafsica Vasiliadou was eventful and full of laughter.
You have been recently appointed as the Chevening Chapter Leader for Pakistan, could you share your motivations for accepting this leadership responsibility?
Studying on a Chevening Scholarship at Queen Mary was a once in a lifetime opportunity. Being chosen as Queen Mary’s Chevening Chapter leader is an honour. Personally, it has already helped me relive many precious moments from one of the best years of my life. By accepting this offer and leadership responsibility I envision working closely with Sonal Hathi, Kuseme Iseh and others to try my upmost to build a sound Queen Mary Chevening Network in Pakistan whereby Alumni can remain in touch, help one another professionally, and even guide future Chevening Scholars attending Queen Mary.
Having joined the Chevening Chapter in the Queen Mary Network group, how do you intend to utilise the platform for your new role as the Chapter Leader?
Queen Mary’s Alumni Engagement Team is working tirelessly to promote cohesion and networking. The Queen Mary Network provides Queen Mary students with a platform to engage in discourse, interact and learn from each other. As Chevening Chapter Leader for Pakistan I foresee increased usage of this platform to further promote interconnectivity, solidarity and a sense of communal belonging.
From your experiences, what advice would you give to prospective students who are considering studying the same degree as you?
The Queen Mary Library is your best friend.
Finally, outside of work, what are you most likely to be found doing?
Listening to quality music, meditating, enjoying a loud joyful evening with childhood friends that know me inside out, and being close to Mother Nature whether it be trekking or travelling to places with natural scenic beauty.