10 Questions with Ifrah Tariq (FSP)

 Ifrah Tariq

JWT provides detailed discourse on all issues, and enables one to write what an examiner may expect to see.

Jahangir’s World Times (JWT): Kindly tell us about your educational background and achievements in detail?

I am a graduate in Business Administration (BBA (H)), with majors in Marketing, from College of Business Management, Karachi. I have been a brilliant student throughout my academic career, and by the grace of Almighty Allah, been on scholarship throughout my undergrad programme. And, in 2012, I passed the CSS exam in my first attempt.

JWT: What inspired you to go for the FSP, and how it is better than the other occupational groups?

First of all, let me make it clear that I don’t believe in grading the occupational groups as better or worse ones. Each group is equally important and dynamic in its own scope of activities as they share a common purpose, i.e. to serve the nation. Insofar as FSP is concerned, it is basically a lifestyle and it had always attracted me. It imparts ample opportunities to travel around the world and gain experience and exposure.

JWT: How far your education can help you in conduct of diplomacy?

I strongly believe that my expertise in marketing shall definitely be a plus point for me as it’s all about dealing with different peoples in different setups to win them over, and that is what marketing is all about i.e. selling your own point of view as efficient and subtle manner as possible.

JWT: Today Pakistan is associated with every negative connotation in the world thesaurus. As a career diplomat, what role can you play to allay world’s fears in this regard? 

Well, I think each one of us is a representative of Pakistan, especially when abroad. So, being a diplomat my first and foremost priority and responsibility would be to portray the soft image of my country by highlighting various positives about it. You know, we are blessed with immensely talented people, who have the potential to rule the world with their hard work and intellect. All we require is a certain degree of self-confidence in our abilities and support from our leaders.

JWT: In your opinion, is it preferable to join an academy for CSS preparation or one should do it on one’s own?

Well, I did join an academy for some time, because I wanted to have some insight into the functioning of the system. But, mostly I prepared on my own. I strongly recommend all the aspirants that they should not rely solely on the academies rather they should consult newspapers, magazines like Jahangir’s World Times, and quality books. Here, I would assert the importance of reading Dawn newspaper that is, to me, the ‘Bible of CSS’. Regular, in-depth reading of ‘Dawn’ keeps you abreast of the happenings all around the globe. Moreover, it helps you improve your command over grammar and syntax, vocabulary and develop your opinions and thoughts.

As you know ours is an era of information technology, so it should also be optimally utilized for exam preparation. I got a lot of help from YouTube and other resources as I watched and listened to the lectures of notable professors online.

JWT: What strategy should one adopt to make a difference?

Actually, the way one attempts a paper is pivotal to determining one’s final result. The candidates gather information from almost same sources. But, what really makes a difference is the way that information is put into writing. So, one should specially focus on the ‘HOW’ part of attempting a paper however, it requires a lot of practice.

One should always remember that fortune favours the brave. It means luck only favours you if you put in hard work during your preparations and while attempting the papers. To me, success is the amazing combination of hard work and luck.

JWT: As you know, most candidates fail English Essay, and English Précis and Composition papers. What strategy should one adopt for these two crucial papers? And also tell what should be the criteria to select the optional subjects.

Write, write and write! Practice writing as much as you can because it is the only panacea to get through these papers. Do prepare essay outlines and study diverse topics in detail.

Now with regard to optional subjects, I do agree that selecting those is of critical importance. I selected those subjects for which I had prior knowledge. When I was confused between a couple of subjects, I went through their outlines, and after comparing them, opted for the one that was more promising.

JWT: What sort of guidance the fresh aspirants should seek for? And how Jahangir’s World Times (JWT) is a rich source for them in this regard?

I think, prior to starting actual preparation, a candidate must conduct a thorough and comprehensive research on various aspects of CSS. I spent a considerable span of time for this purpose and when I found myself willing to take the exam, I started studying with full vigour and fervour.

As far as Jahangir’s World Times (JWT) is concerned, I do see it as an excellent and rich source of help for the aspirants. JWT provides detailed discourses on all issues, and enables one to write what an examiner may expect to see.

JWT: We see that many a talented Karchiite does not aspire to go for CSS. Why is it so and what would be your advice to the youth of Karachi in this regard?

In fact, CSS is, relatively, a new trend in Sindh Urban especially Karachi. Nevertheless, it is quite heartening to see that more and more Karachiites are aspiring to join the Civil Services of Pakistan. I would just say, ‘Have faith in your abilities and do your utmost to pursue your dreams.

JWT: What sort of preparation is essential to get through the interview?

‘Do your homework’ prior to appearing before the panel. Read extensively and thoroughly. Go through your optional and compulsory subjects, in detail. To get acquainted with the daily happenings in Pakistan and around the globe, do read newspapers daily. Be confident. Present your point of view in a firm, confident manner. However, avoid getting into a debate with the worthy panellists. Make sure you do not sound or act rude at any point during the interview. Last but not least, maintain a pleasant smile on your face; it helps!

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