U.S.-Pakistan Relations Topic of International Relations Conference

Ali Chaudhry '12, pictured in center with a green shirt, and fellow members of the Wesleyan International Relations Association, are hosting a conference titled “Deciphering Pakistan and U.S.-Pakistan Relations,” Sept. 30-Oct. 1. (Photo by Bill Tyner '13)

In attempt to increase awareness and understanding of global issues, the Wesleyan International Relations Association created a forum to allow top academics and commentators to discuss global issues with the Wesleyan community. This year, the 33-member association is hosting a conference titled “Deciphering Pakistan and U.S.-Pakistan Relations,” Sept. 30-Oct. 1.

“This year we’re focusing on Pakistan because of the strategic importance of the region,” says association founder and president Ali Chaudhry ’12. “We feel that it is a country that most people are interested in learning about. However, many people do not have enough information about Pakistan, which often leads people to make presumptions about it.”

The conference aims to increase understanding and awareness about Pakistan from its culture to its politics. The conference will also focus on U.S.-Pakistan relations, which have both strained and strengthened after 9-11. The conference’s speakers are among the top commentators, officials and scholars on Pakistan and US-Pakistan relations, and the event will be open to the students, faculty and the larger public.

Panelists and guest speakers include:

Shahid Javed Burki is a professional economist who has served as Finance Minister of Pakistan and as a Vice President of the World Bank. He has written extensively on economic development and on the political history of Pakistan.

Ambassador Howard B. Schaffer is a retired American Foreign Service officer who spent much of his 36-year career dealing with U.S. relations with South Asia.

Asim Khwaja is the Sumitomo-FASID Professor of International Finance and Development at the Harvard Kennedy School and the faculty chair of the Master in Public Administration/International Development program.

Najam Sethi is the editor-in-chief of The Friday Times, a Lahore based political weekly, and the editor-in-chief of Geo News. He is the only journalist from Asia to receive three international press freedom awards in a decade.

Humeira Iqtidar is currently a research fellow at the Centre of South Asian Studies and at King’s College, Cambridge University. Her research is concerned with secularisation, secularism, feminism and Islamism.

Stanley Wolpert is an American historian, biographer and novelist and also an emeritus professor of History in University of California, Los Angeles.

Najeeb Ghauri is the founder, Chairman and CEO of NetSol Technologies, Inc. Mr. Ghauri is heavily involved in political and non-governmental organizations committed to US-Pakistan relations, particularly the US-Pakistan Business Council (vice president) and the Pakistan Human Development Fund (founding board member).

Mehreen Jabbar is a noted Pakistani film-maker and television director/producer. She directed the Pakistani film “Ramchand Pakistani”, which won the Audience Award of the Fribourg International Film Festival in Switzerland.

Imran Aziz Mian, a highly popular Qawwal from Pakistan, transfers the passion of his Qawwalis to his audience in live performances.

The conference schedule is online. Events include a screening of Ramchand Pakistan followed by a discussion with the film’s Director Mehreen Jabbar, concert with Salman Ahmad, a panel discussion on Pakistan’s internal dynamics, lunch catered by Roti Boti, Indian/Pakistani cuisine, a panel discussion on US-Pakistani relations and talk and dinner with the keynote speaker Shahid Javed Burki.

“Through the conference, we hope to unite that passion around a country of momentous significance to both the U.S. and the world- Pakistan,” says Connor Larkin ’12, the event’s speaker coordinator. “Such a focused event will provide a template for years to come; those of us planning the event expect to continue working long after October, to ensure that the conference becomes an annual occurrence at Wesleyan. International relations between disparate peoples, at the foundational level, is concerned with building personal, intellectual and cultural bonds.”

The event is organized in collaboration with the Wesleyan Pakistan Flood Relief Initiative and Wesleyan South Asian Studies Faculty. Proceeds from the conference will benefit the Flood Relief Initiative.

Participants must RSVP. For more information, e-mail wira.conf@gmail.com.