How Imran Khan Might Change Pakistan and its U.S. Relations

A panel discussion on the consequences of the most recent election in Pakistan on relations with the U.S. with Michael Kugelman, Arif Rafiq, Tamanna Salikuddin, and Moeed Yusuf.
Friday, August 3
12:00 - 1:30 pm
The Middle East Institute
1319 18th Street NW
Washington, District of Columbia 20036

Event Information

Many anticipate that as the new prime minister, Imran Khan will change Pakistan and alter its relations with the United States and regional powers. Khan’s first speech to the nation was moderate in tone and substance. He has an ambitious reform agenda that above all promises to deal with corruption. What domestic constraints will he face? Will his being a successful populist, the first since the 1970s, embolden him to pursue transformative policies such as on taxation and land reform? How will his government handle Pakistan’s looming economic crisis? Will he inevitably butt heads with the military over its budget and Pakistan’s policies toward countering terrorism? Is Khan prepared to modify his deeply negative views on the U.S. role in Afghanistan? How far should he be expected to go curbing the Afghan Taliban and pushing it toward peace talks? Can he improve relations with India and also satisfy his religious-political base?
These and other questions will be addressed in a discussion among a distinguished panel of experts on Pakistan hosted by the Middle East Institute (MEI). The panelists are Michael Kugelman (Wilson Center), Arif Rafiq (Vizier Consulting), Tamanna Salikuddin (U.S. Institute of Peace) and Moeed Yusuf (U.S. Institute of Peace). MEI’s director for Afghanistan and Pakistan Studies, Marvin Weinbaumwill moderate.


A light lunch will be served.


Michael Kugelman

Deputy director, Asia Program, Wilson Center
Michael Kugelman is the deputy director of the Asia program and senior associate for South Asia at the Wilson Center. He is a leading specialist on Afghanistan, India, and Pakistan and their relations with the United States. The editor or co-editor of 11 books, he has written for The New York Times, Foreign Policy, Foreign Affairs, and other publications, covering topics ranging from U.S. policy in Afghanistan to terrorism to water, energy, and food security in the region.


Arif Rafiq

President, Vizier Consulting; non-resident fellow, MEI
Arif Rafiq is the president of Vizier Consulting that provides strategic guidance on the Middle East and South Asian political and security issues. He is also a non-resident fellow at MEI. Rafiq is also a weekly columnist with Pakistan's Express Tribune, a leading Pakistani English-language daily. A frequent contributor to print and web publications, Rafiq has written for outlets such as the Christian Science Monitor, CTC Sentinel, Daily Beast, and Foreign Policy. He has also been quoted by newspapers such as the Globe & Mail and the New York Times.

Tamanna Salikuddin 

Senior expert, United States Institute of Peace (USIP)
Tamanna Salikuddin is the senior expert on peace processes with a focus on inclusivity at USIP. Prior to joining USIP she was a senior advisor to the special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan at the U.S. Department of State from 2014 to 2017, and director for Afghanistan and Pakistan at the U.S. National Security Council from 2011 to 2013. She has expertise in a range of topics related to South Asia, including counterterrorism, governance issues, and domestic reform in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and India. At USIP, she leads a multi-faceted program to build thought leadership and expertise on sustainable peace processes. Her work underpins the Institute’s efforts to advance inclusivity and representation in peace processes and conflict resolution.

Moeed Yusuf
Associate vice president, Asia center, USIP
Moeed Yusuf is currently the director of South Asia program at USIP. Before joining USIP, Yusuf was a teaching fellow at Boston University’s Political Science Department and a research fellow at the Boston University Pardee Center. He is also a research fellow at Strategic and Economic Policy Research, Pakistan and a visiting associate at the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI), Pakistan. Most recently, he was based at the Brookings Institution as a special guest researcher. Yusuf is a columnist for The Friday Times, Pakistan’s leading English weekly paper. His research focuses on strategic concerns related to South Asia, especially those falling within the ambit of Pakistan and India’s security policy, the political economy of democratic transitions in Pakistan, as well as developmental issues related to South Asian trade and poverty.

Marvin G. Weinbaum

Director for Afghanistan and Pakistan Studies, MEI

Marvin Weinbaum is the director for Afghanistan and Pakistan studies and resident scholar at MEI, and professor emeritus of political science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He served as an analyst for Pakistan and Afghanistan in the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research from 1999 to 2003. At Illinois, Weinbaum directed the program in South Asian and Middle Eastern studies for 15 years. His research, teaching, and consultancies have focused on the issues of national security, state building, democratization, and political economy in Afghanistan and Pakistan.