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Pakistan Beyond Seventy: The Long View

April 16-17, 2018

Ambassador Aizaz Chaudhry, Ambassador of Pakistan to the United States
Hassan Abbas Khan, Assistant Professor of Electrical Engineering, Lahore University of Management Sciences
Mehmood Khan, Vice Chairman and Chief Scientific Officer of Pepsi Co
Abubakar Muhammad, Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering, Lahore University of Management Sciences
Imtiaz Ul Haq, Amman Fellow at the Lakshmi Mittal South Asia Institute at Harvard University
Joshua White, Associate Professor of the Practice of South Asia Studies
Moderated by Shamila Chaudhary, Fellow, Foreign Policy Institute
Full conference program

The Johns Hopkins SAIS community marked the anniversary of Pakistan's founding with a conference co-hosted with the Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS), "Pakistan beyond 70: The Long View." The conference focused on Pakistan's future, its relationship with the US, and the global order. 

The first day started with a line of distinguished introductions by Joshua White, Shezad Habib, Special Advisor, INDUS (the only Pakistan-focused think tank in the US), and Rasul Bakhsh Rais, Professor of Political Science, LUMS. Speakers shared an overview of domestic issues unique to Pakistan, such as the military’s relationship with the parties and people in power. The overview discussion helped to define regime disability and regime uncertainty in combination with dynastic politics, and a lack of responsive jurisprudence to issues in the country.

The conversations were especially stirring in the wake of the nation's High Court recently banning former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif from participating in politics. The idea of a democratic Pakistan was debated and defended, along with an understanding of how foreign forces have affected the region.

The conference also featured the launch of "Kaleidoscope Pakistan," an exhibit of works by Pakistani artists and photographers exploring Pakistani identity, culture, and history. The exhibit is hosted by Muse, sponsored by INDUS, and curated by Zara in partnership with the school's Foreign Policy Institute series, The Big Picture, exploring international affairs through the lens of arts and culture. 

Among the highlights of day two was the panel on "Pakistan’s Economic Future" which focused on various factors that have the potential to shape the country’s economy moving forward. Mehmood Khan discussed Pakistan’s need to improve conditions for doing business in order to encourage growth in the country. He also cited the need for more transparent tax and trade policies as well as more robust intellectual property rights protection as essential for the country to improve its business ties with the United States and other countries. Ul Haq spoke about Pakistan’s economy at large and warned about the country’s increasing debt burden. Currently about 30 percent of the country’s budget goes into debt service, and this percentage continues to rise.  Much of Pakistan’s borrowing goes toward infrastructure projects and very little is invested in technology or research. The panel also explored the future of Pakistan’s natural resources, especially its water, and how resources can be best leveraged to produce more electricity and improve the productivity of the country’s agricultural sector.