“University-affiliated think tanks critical for national policymaking” – Foreign Minister of Pakistan
“Think tanks play a very important role in the contemporary world in raising voice and awareness on key national, regional, and global issues, and providing evidence-based inputs for the formulation of policies for national development and growth,” Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said at the launch of the NUST Institute of Policy Studies (NIPS) at NUST Islamabad campus, on April 03, 2019. The launch witnessed the organisation of a seminar on “Pakistan-India Relations and the Resurgence of Freedom Struggle in the Indian-Occupied Jammu & Kashmir.”
The Foreign Minister commended the leadership of NUST for having taken the timely step of establishing a university-affiliated policy centre that would help harness the vast knowledge capital, R&D resources, and multidisciplinary expertise concentrated in NUST’s network of schools, centres, institutes, and para-academic initiatives. He asserted, “university-affiliated think tanks were critical for national policymaking.” The Foreign Minister further stated that the ongoing standoff with India was a crisis created by the Indian ruling party BJP in the hope of ensuring an electoral victory in the upcoming elections. He reiterated that despite such obstacles, Pakistan was committed to peace and stability in the region.
Lt Gen Naweed Zaman, HI (M), (Retd), Rector NUST, acknowledged the foreign policy initiatives undertaken by the Government. He also highlighted the strategic vision and operational approach of the new think tank. He informed the gathering that the think tank would not only conduct high-quality research and analysis on key issues of comprehensive national development but also undertake diverse but focused collaborations for regional collaboration and connectivity with leading national and international think tanks in the world, especially, in Asia Pacific, Europe, Middle East, and North Africa.
Dr Ashfaque Hasan Khan, Principal NUST School of Social Sciences & Humanities (S3H) and Director General NIPS, moderated the seminar. Dr Ashfaque is also the member of Prime Minister’s Economic Advisory Council.
In his talk, Mr Riaz Hussain Khokhar, former Foreign Secretary, appreciated the raising of the new think tank by NUST. He said the think tank should make efforts to remain impartial in its analysis and dedicate its resources to high-quality relevant and independent research. He said the regional situation was very serious and that the trust deficit between India and Pakistan had hit rock bottom in the recent crisis following the Pulwama attack. He contended that major powers in the world should play a role in this process by influencing Indian behaviour in the best interest of regional peace and stability.
Ms Mushaal Mullick, a renowned peace & human rights activist and the wife of famous Hurriyet leader, Mr Yasin Malik, categorically condemned the incarceration of her husband by Indian authorities and highlighted the regime of terror and oppression that India was running against Kashmiri Muslims in the IoK. She thanked Pakistani government for raising the issue of Kashmir at every important international forum.
The event was attended by foreign diplomats, serving & erstwhile senior civil & military officials, students, scholars, researchers, professional experts, business personalities, think tank community, and civil society representatives. The seminar was followed by a Q&A session, wherein the audience raised several queries, vis-à-vis Indo-Pak relations, with the Foreign Minister, who reciprocated with comprehensive and satisfactory answers.