November 13, 2017


‘Future of Pakistan Conference’ at LSE proves to be a success

The ‘Future of Pakistan Conference 2017’ (FOP) – a flagship conference of London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) Pakistan Development Society (PDS) – was held in London recently. The conference brought together academics, politicians and professionals from Pakistan and UK to debate the direction in which Pakistan was heading, and the impact of government initiatives and policies on its citizens and future. The hallmark of the conference was announcement of the Jinnah Chair by Pakistan Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi in its concluding session.

Supported by the Pakistan High Commission in London and Communications Research Strategies (CRS) – an Islamabad based Strategic Communication firm – the conference was multiply significant.

LSE is a world-renowned institution known for the value it adds to productive discourse, the development of research agendas, and growth of ideas. Also the FOP Conference is the largest student led International Conference in Europe allowing a unique opportunity for Pakistani students at LSE as well as those students and academics interested in Pakistan to engage with Pakistan’s political leadership in an academic setting.

This year’s speakers included: Senator Sherry Rehman, Senator Lt Gen (r) Abdul Qayyum, Qamar Zaman Kaira, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Economic Affairs Miftah Ismail and journalist Cyril Almeida. The speakers were distributed in three panels for separate and in-depth discussions on Pakistan’s politics, economy and foreign Policy, each to be followed by a Q & A session.

The speakers discussed at length Pakistan’s political developments and its future, economic potential with focus on China–Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and Pakistan’s foreign policy challenges. It was encouraging to see Pakistani students engaging with Pakistani political leadership with open minds but with well structured questions, said the speakers.

The crucial takeout from the conference however, was that there was a lot of appetite for Pakistani narrative on the international stage. We often fail to put across our story as we do not calibrate our response to the emerging international and regional politics and do not leverage available platforms. There is a need for Pakistani government and more so Pakistani corporate sector to identify such opportunities and increase engagement with international research and academic community, the speakers remarked.

Prime Minister Abbasi who spoke and engaged with students at the concluding session of the conference announced to fund the Jinnah Chair at LSE.

He said that South Asia Centre at LSE was leading an effort to develop an alternative research agenda for Pakistan. Indeed, Pakistan needs to be seen beyond the strategic narrative that mostly is the only talk about Pakistan on the international stage. Pakistan is much more than its geographical and strategic location. Its people, its culture and its socio economic dynamics all are equally important to understand the country, said
the PM.


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