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Marking a Milestone: Two Pakistani Rhodes Scholars Selected for Class of 2024

Two exceptional students from Lahore, Asmer Safi and Iman Iftikhar, have won the prestigious Rhodes Scholarships for Pakistan this year. This year marks the Rhodes Scholarship’s 75th anniversary in Pakistan.

The Rhodes Scholarship is the world’s preeminent and oldest graduate fellowship, based at the University of Oxford since 1903. The Scholarships for Pakistan began in 1949.

Marking a Milestone: Two Pakistani Rhodes Scholars Selected for Class of 2024

The Scholars will head to Oxford University in October 2024 to join a cohort of 105 Scholars hailing from around the world to undertake fully funded post-graduate studies and become part of a strong community of people determined to make a positive difference in the world.

Students from anywhere in the world can apply for a Rhodes Scholarship and many find that taking part in our rigorous selection is a profoundly positive experience which leaves them well placed to go on to a Rhodes Scholarship or other opportunities worldwide.

The Rhodes Trust selection process aims to choose young people with proven academic excellence who also show exceptional character, leadership, the energy to use their talents to the full and a commitment to solving humanity’s challenges.

The selection process includes a rigorous review process before the finalists interview with a selection committee composed of renowned experts and leaders in diverse fields.

The 75th anniversary of Rhodes Scholarship in Pakistan marks a significant milestone for the programme and all future Pakistani candidates. It represents the Rhodes Trust’s commitment to continue nurturing talented students from Pakistan and ensuring that Pakistani is represented in the global community.

Rhodes Scholars form a lifelong community of people in many fields and careers, united by a commitment to having a positive impact on the world. Scholars from Pakistan have gone on to pursue careers ranging from entrepreneurship to politics.

This year’s winners continue the fantastic legacy of Scholarship and excellence.

Asmer Safi

Asmer Asrar Safi, a senior at Harvard University, specializes in the intellectual history of Islamic and Marxist political thought in South Asia. As Co-President of the Signet Society, he actively engages in initiatives like the Palestine Solidarity Committee and chaired the 2020 Harvard Pakistan Forum. Asmer’s interests extend to global arts, particularly the South Asian music scene. At Oxford, he aims to study how progressive political messaging gains mass appeal in South Asia.

Iman Iftikhar

Iman Iftikhar, a historian and artist from Lahore, completed her undergraduate studies in History and Philosophy at Yale. Focused on the Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement and ethics of violence, she is fluent in multiple languages, including English, Urdu, Punjabi, Arabic, and German. A weaver and oil painter, Iman is also committed to education. At Oxford, she plans to continue her studies in history or explore political theory, reflecting her diverse academic pursuits.

Dr Elizabeth Kiss, CEO of the Rhodes Trust, said: “We are excited to see the tremendous talents of this year’s Rhodes Scholars Elect, who come from countries all around the world. We know from 120 years of bringing exceptional people to Oxford to study and build a dynamic global community, that when unlikeminded but likehearted people come together, we can forge brighter futures for everyone.”

Babar Sattar, National Secretary for the Rhodes Trust in Pakistan and Chairman of the Selection Committee in Pakistan, said: “I am very proud to see the Rhodes Scholarship awarded to two exceptional Pakistani students this year. Asmer and Iman are incredibly talented and very deserving of this opportunity. I look forward to their achievements and contributions to the community of Rhodes Scholars, Pakistan, and the world at large.”
The Trust is committed to ensuring that the world’s diversity of background and thought is reflected at Rhodes House, which has expanded the Rhodes Scholarship to include Global Scholarships and new constituencies in recent years, including West Africa, East Africa, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Malaysia, Syria, Jordan Lebanon & Palestine and the United Arab Emirates.

The applications for the 2025 Rhodes Scholarships will open in June 2024. More information about the Scholarship application be found at: https://www.rhodeshouse.ox.ac.uk/scholarships/the-rhodes-scholarship/.

Biographies of the Scholars

Asmer Safi

    Asmer Asrar Safi is a senior at Harvard University, majoring in Social Studies and Ethnicity, Migration and Human Rights, with a focus on the intellectual history of the interactions between Islamic and Marxist political thought in South Asia. His senior Honors thesis investigates the role of Maulana Abdul Rahim Popalzai, a Muslim cleric at the intersections of Islam and Marxism, known for leading peasant and labor movements in the Frontier Province of British India. At Harvard, Asmer serves as the Co-President of the Signet Society for Arts and Letters, and organizes with the Palestine Solidarity Committee. He co-founded the South Asians for Forward-Thinking Advocacy and Research initiative, served as the Director of International Student First-Year Affairs. He is particularly interested in bringing conversations from Pakistan to the global stage, which he did through chairing the 2020 iteration of the Harvard Pakistan Forum.

    At Oxford, Asmer is interested in learning how progressive political messaging in South Asia garners mass appeal, with a focus on how local epistemologies, opinion-leaders, and theories of change inform the impact that progressive political agents deliver.

    In his free time, Asmer writes about the burgeoning South Asian music scene, watches films from across the world, and illustrates for various publications.

    Iman Iftikhar

    Iman Iftikhar (she/her) is a student historian, amateur oil painter, weaver, and educator from Lahore, Pakistan. She completed her undergraduate work in History and Philosophy at Yale University, focusing on the intellectual history of the Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement and the ethics of violence and non-violence. Iman is also an avid language learner. She speaks English, Urdu, Punjabi, Arabic, and German, and wants to learn Farsi and Pashto. At Oxford, Iman hopes to continue her studies in history, and/or study political theory.

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