Pathways to Change: Pakistan Policy Symposium

A two-day symposium organized in collaboration with the Wilson Center and INDUS on the future of Pakistan.
Wednesday, October 17
9:00 am
- Thursday, October 18
5:00 pm
6th Floor, Woodrow Wilson Center
1300 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
Washington, District of Columbia 20004

Event Information

Pakistan has enjoyed a series of recent achievements in economic, political, and foreign affairs. Yet it continues to suffer from major challenges that threaten to squander the progress of recent years. What can Pakistan do to capitalize on its opportunities and address its challenges?

The Middle East Institute (MEI) is pleased to support a two-day symposium on the future of Pakistan. This symposium, jointly organized by the Wilson Center and INDUS, seeks to answer questions surrounding Pakistan's future, with an emphasis on identifying practical, innovative, and actionable policy solutions.

For a full schedule and to register, please visit the event website.


October 17

9:00am-9:30am: Registration

9:30am-9:45am: Welcoming Remarks
Michael Kugelman
Deputy director, Asia program; senior associate for South Asia, Wilson Center

9:45am-10:30am: Opening address
Henry S. Ensher
Deputy assistant secretary for South Asia, U.S. Department of State

10:45am-12:45pm: U.S.-Pakistan Relations
How can the U.S. and Pakistan arrive at a realistic and workable relationship? What should the contours of U.S.-Pakistan cooperation look like, realistically speaking, given what we know about the nature of the relationship today and the dynamics of broader South Asia? Can the two sides move beyond current tension points and still find ways to partner? If so, what should that type of partnership look like? Can the United States look at Pakistan through any lens other than Afghanistan?

Spotlight Speaker
Shuja Nawaz
Distinguished Fellow, Atlantic Council

Hasan Askari-Rizvi
Professor Emeritus of Political Science, Punjab University, Lahore
Salman Bashir
Former Pakistani Foreign Secretary
Laurel Miller
Senior political scientist, RAND Corporation; Former acting special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, U.S. Department of State
David Sedney
Senior Associate, Center for Strategic and International Studies; Former deputy assistant secretary of defense for Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Central Asia

12:45pm-1:45pm: Lunch

1:45pm-3:45pm: Afghanistan
How if at all can Kabul, Islamabad, and Washington cooperate to achieve an endgame that works for all parties? What are the expectations that each country has of the others? What can Pakistan and Afghanistan realistically do to address each other’s concerns and allow for better cooperation—and is there a middle ground? What role should the US play in Afghanistan-Pakistan relations? Can the three countries partner in efforts to launch—and see through—a peace process in Afghanistan? Finally, what type of endgame(s) does each country want to have—and how realistic are these endgames?

Spotlight Speaker
Madina Qasimi
Deputy chief of mission, Embassy of Afghanistan

Imtiaz Gul,
Executive director, Center for Research and Security studies, Islamabad
Robin Raphel,
Former assistant Secretary of State for South Asia, U.S. Deparment of State
Omar Samad,
Analyst and former Afghan official

4:00pm-6:00pm: Women and Entrepreneurship
What is the future of the startup and innovation economy in Pakistan, and how can it help strengthen job growth and the status of women? What can be done to foster more women’s entrepreneurship in Pakistan’s formal economy?

Spotlight Speaker
Andleeb Abbas
Member of the National Assembly, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)

Sumera Abbasi
Manager, WECREATE Pakistan
Yasmin Hyder
President, Pakistan Women Entrepreneurs Network for Trade (WE-NET)
Rudaba Nasir
Employment specialist, Gender Secretariat, International Finance Corporation
Naeem Zamindar
Former chair of Pakistan’s Board of Investment

6:00pm-7:00pm: Reception
Welcoming Remarks
Athar Javaid
Executive director, Indus

October 18

9:00am-9:30am: Registration

9:30am-9:40am: Welcoming Remarks
Michael Kugelman
Deputy director, Asia Program; Senior associate for South Asia, Wilson Center

9:40am-10:30am: Opening Address
Dr. Ishrat Husain
Adviser to the Prime Minister on Institutional Reforms and Austerity, Government of Pakistan

10:45am-12:45pm: Economic Futures
What are the most effective steps that Pakistan can take to address its economic challenges, both in the immediate and long term, and how practical are such steps in the current political environment? Do the initial economic policies put in place by the new Pakistani government represent steps in the right direction? How if at all can Pakistan leverage opportunities—presented by a large working-age population, the emergence of several new growth industries, and an improved security situation, among other things—in order to strengthen economic growth? What role should development assistance play in Pakistan’s economy? How should Pakistan approach the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor? Should Pakistan go back to the IMF? And is there any hope for a normalized India-Pakistan trade relationship?

Dr. Shamshad Akhtar,
Development economist; former governor of the State Bank of Pakistan
Khurram Husain,
Business editor, Dawn newspape; Former Wilson Center Pakistan scholar
Nadia Naviwala
Global fellow, Wilson Center
James Schwemlein
Consultant, The World Bank; Former U.S. Diplomat

12:45pm-1:45pm: Lunch

1:45pm-3:15pm: The Diaspora
This panel will focus broadly on how Pakistani-Americans can help strengthen the Pakistani economy. The emphasis will be on diaspora-led social and traditional entrepreneurship and investment.  What are the current opportunities and challenges presented by the business climate in Pakistan? How can the intellectual and financial capital of diaspora members help foster an entrepreneurial ecosystem with the necessary mentorship, capital, and management experience? 

Courtenay Dunn,
Deputy director, Office of Pakistan Affairs, Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs, U.S. Department of State
Naveed Sherwani
CEO, SiFive
Amra Tareen
Head of Innovation, Bed Bath & Beyond
Naeem Zamindar
Former chair of Pakistan’s Board of Investment

3:30pm-5:00pm: State, Society, and Extremism
How can Pakistani society and the state make real and lasting progress tackling radicalization and extremism? What steps need to be taken, and how feasible are they, given current political dynamics? What types of incentive structures are needed for state authorities to have the political will to move forward on this issue in lasting ways? What is the role of the Pakistani military in all this? Is it part of the problem, part of the solution, or both? Finally, what does the emergence of new hardline parties in the political sphere portend for security and radicalization/extremism prospects? Is it a good or bad thing to bring these hardliners into the political mainstream?

Spotlight Speaker
Javed Jabbar
Former Senator and Federal Minister, Government of Pakistan

Imtiaz Gul
Executive director, Center for Research and Security Studies, Islamabad
Raza Rumi
Director, Park Center for Independent Media, Ithaca College; Visiting faculty, Cornell Institute for Public Affairs
Dr. Niloufer Siddiqui
Assistant Professor of Political Science, University of Albany-State University of New York

5:00pm-5:15pm: Closing Remarks
Michael Kugelman
Deputy director, Asia Program; Senior associate for South Asia, Wilson Center