The South Asia Centre at the London School of Economics held its first-ever flagship summit — LSE Pakistan Summit on 10-11 April at the Auditorium, Aman Tower, IBA City Campus, Karachi. Presented by Aman Foundation, ‘Pakistan 70: LSE Pakistan Summit 2017’ commemorated the 70th anniversary of Pakistan’s independence. It debated core issues central to Pakistan’s emergence as a central power in the region, and her way forward in 21st century.
The Summit comprised of 4 thematic panel discussions that debated issues of contemporary concern. There was a panel discussion on Philanthropy and Institution-Building, examining how private philanthropic initiatives run alongside government social infrastructures in Pakistan, providing vital service and support to the less privileged sections of society — two significant sectors are higher education and public health. Senior philanthropists and stalwarts like Babar Ali (Founder of LUMS), Hussain Dawood (DawoodHercules Group), Fayeeza Naqvi (Aman Foundation) shared their experiences along with young dynamic citizens like the lawyer and social worker Tahera Hasan (Imkaan). Academic Zaffar Khan (LUMS) brought the academic perspective on this unique tradition of giving in Pakistan, and Malik Ahmad Jalal (LSE alumnus and Director of Aman Foundation, Karachi) provided overarching comments.
Another session titled Art and Modernity explored the distinct style of Pakistani art that has developed through truck art, television humour, dance, film and political satire to public artworks and installations. The panel discussed the place of art as a confined free space that has provided avenues for aesthetics and protest, being a continuing social commentary on emerging issues in Pakistan. Award-winning graphics designer Ali Rez, independent artist Farida Batool, radio host Fasi Zaka, and film researcher Ali Nobil Ahmad debated the social impact of art, with Cornell Professor of Art and expert Iftikhar Dadi.
Pakistan’s complex political trajectory – alternating between democratic political governance and military rule – has given her Constitution a very special place in its political identity as a nation-state. Very recently, the 18th Amendment has been a radical intervention in debates concerning the making of Pakistan. A panel discussion on The Constitution in Pakistan included prominent Senator Sherry Rehman, Pakistan Constitution expert Matthew Nelson, leading jurist Hina Jilani and Director of the South Asia Centre (LSE) and political anthropologist Mukulika Banerjee, who debated a range of issues including the place of the Constitution in democratic governance and deepening democracy in Pakistan today.
One often hears about Pakistan’s demographic dividends, and her youth bulge – where more than 60% of the population is less than the age of 30. The question of development – across all sectors – is closely linked to its dividends as one analyses the long-term processes at work in the economy. One panel discussion discussed Development and Dividends, focusing on government and non-government initiatives and the challenges that confront the nation as it moves forward in economic growth.
- A Special Lecture by Professor David Gilmartin (North Carolina State University, USA) on ‘The Indus and its Peoples’
- A Special Address by Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi on ‘A World in Tumult’
- A Special Alumni Talk by Professor Philip Oldenburg (Columbia University, USA) on ‘The Making of a Loyal Opposition in Pakistan’.
Speaking about the Summit, Dr Mukulika Banerjee, Director, South Asia Centre, London School of Economics & Political Science, said “Pakistan at 70” will be a unique, first-ever platform for frank deliberations on contemporary national issues, and will aim to create conversations between academic research and wider stakeholders, strengthening Pakistan’s global engagement and repositioning debates on Pakistan. Our association with the Aman Foundation highlights our shared values of building capacity, impacting public knowledge, developing potential, and creating opportunity in Pakistan today.’
Ms Fayeeza Naqvi, Chairman Aman Foundation, says, ‘As we mark the 70th anniversary of Pakistan’s independence, Aman Foundation is proud to partner with the LSE-South Asia Centre to bring together thought leaders from across the world for discussions about key issues in Pakistan. Our hope is that the LSE Pakistan Summit engenders critical thought leadership, areas of collaboration for stakeholders, and solutions to some of Pakistan’s major challenges.’