‘Pakistan’s youth needs to be
equipped with soft skills.’

Yasir Arafat, Pakistan’ leading trainer and motivational speaker, talks to SouthAsia in this exclusive interview with Waseem Shabbir Arain.

March 2023

In his exclusive interview with SouthAsia, Yasir Arafat talks about his inspiring journey and different challenges and difficulties he has faced in trying to pursue his dreams.

How did you join this specific field and above all, what prompted you to become a leadership trainer?

Hailing from a poor family backdrop, my father was a lift mechanic and was only Matric qualified. I completed my primary and secondary education at the Government Comprehensive Model School, Gujranwala with flying colours. After Matriculation, I opened a tuition centre for secondary and elementary level students and also started home tuitions. Since early childhood, I wanted to become a fighter pilot, therefore, after doing my intermediate at the National Science College, I got admission in an Islamabad-based academy to get prepared for the Inter-Services Selection Board (ISSB) test. After realising my extraordinary communication skills, the same institute hired me as a trainer for coaching and guiding newcomers joining the academy for the preparation of the ISSB test.

About Yasir Arafat
Yasir Arafat is Pakistan’ leading professional trainer, motivational speaker and life coach. He has devised a training programme based on need analysis. Being associated with this specialized field of training and professional development for over 18 years, Mr. Arafat has conducted hundreds of life coaching sessions and empowered people through motivational speaking seminars and workshops at leading public institutions, multinational companies, universities and colleges and non-profit organisations (NGOs). Currently, he is serving the Gujranwala Chamber of Commerce and Industry as its Chairman of the Standing Committee on Training and Development.

Did you face any difficulties in trying to pursue your dreams?

I wanted to become a fighter pilot and appeared in the ISSB examination but unfortunately, I couldn’t get the recommendation. For me, that was the biggest failure in my life. Meanwhile, I realised that in a city like Islamabad I can find many opportunities to groom myself. Therefore, I decided to do my Bachelor’s over there besides doing some odd jobs on a part-time basis to support myself as well as my family. I had to sleep on the footpath and even spent nights in mosques and auto rickshaws. Finally, I managed to live in a university hostel in Rawalpindi. Despite many odds, I did my Master’s in Political Science with majors in Defence and Strategic Studies and International Relations, becoming the first person in my family to earn a Master’s degree.

How did your interest in teaching help you become a life coach and professional trainer?

After the completion of my Master’s in Political Science, I started teaching in private schools and during that period when I realised my potential as a counsellor and motivational speaker. Besides working full-time as a schoolteacher, I started giving pro bono lectures on motivation and personal growth in different schools. Moving ahead, I conducted various sessions on career counselling and study management and also started training teaching staff and acted likewise in many government and private colleges in Gujranwala and beyond.

Yasir Arafat meeting with President of Pakistan Arif Alvi.

What are the major departments you are currently working with as a leadership trainer?

The major partners on board are: Management & Professional Development Department (MPDD), Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), Directorate General of Training and Research (DGTR) Customs, Police Training Institute, State Bank of Pakistan, Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), Anti-Narcotics Force (ANF), Counter Terrorism Department (CTD), Punjab Safe Cities Authority (PSCA), Punjab Information Technology Board (PITB), Gujranwala Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI), Higher Education Department, as well as different military wings and departments that come under federal and provincial governments.

What are the initiatives you have taken for the empowerment of youth?

Pakistan’s youth needs to be equipped with modern education and soft skills to meet the challenges of the 21st century. On my part, I am currently serving as General Secretary at the Pakistan Youth Assembly with the sole objective to empower the youth. In a similar vein, I have taken a number of initiatives under the ongoing ‘Youth Empowerment Programme’ in different cities to empower the youth and equip them with much-needed soft skills. In addition that that, whenever I am invited to speak to different universities and educational institutes, I always prefer to volunteer my services and have all my interactions and sessions with young students.