The Aga Khan University’s Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations and Bloomsbury Pakistan have teamed up to deliver a series of conversations on Pakistan’s response to the current COVID-19 crisis. Although Pakistan has not yet appeared in the lists of countries experiencing either the most infections or most deaths, it has taken dramatic steps to try to slow the transmission of the virus. In a country of more than 200 million people, with widely divergent access to the resources that might make self-isolation possible, it is difficult to assess exactly how this crisis is impacting different sectors of the country. In these conversations, we bring together people with a track record on publishing and thinking about education, health and the economy with specific reference to Pakistan to try and identify key challenges and contribute to effective policies and more accurate forecasts of what may come to pass.
In this conversation, we focus on the economy and well-being in Pakistan. Professor Stephen Lyon (AKU-ISMC) will moderate a conversation between Dr Miftah Ismail and Dr Sohail Anwar Choudhry.
Dr Miftah Ismail is General Secretary of Pakistan Muslim League-N Sindh. He has served as Federal Minister for Finance, Revenue and Economic Affairs, as Special Assistant to the Prime Minister and as Chairman of the Board of Investment, the Privatisation Commission and the Sui Southern Gas Company. A professional economist, Dr Ismail worked briefly for the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Afterwards, he became CEO and Director of Ismail Industries Ltd, Pakistan’s largest confectionery company. He has also served as President of Karachi American School and visiting faculty at Institute of Business Administration. Dr Miftah Ismail holds a bachelor’s degree from Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, a master’s degree in Public Policy and Administration from the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, and a PhD in Public Finance and Political Economy from the Wharton School of Business, University of Pennsylvania.
Dr Sohail Anwar Choudhry is currently a Secretary of the Government of Punjab in Pakistan and also the technical lead on the COVID-responsive Working Group on Social Protection. He has recently authored provincial government’s social protection response plan to COVID-19, a document known as RISE, i.e. Responsive Investments in Social Protection and Economic Recovery.
Dr Choudhry holds a DPhil in Poverty from the University of Oxford, where he also studied for his MSc in Comparative Social Policy as a Chevening Scholar in 2006. He has contributed to several books and journal articles and over the years, sat on the advisory boards and committees of a number of government and voluntary sectors organisations including the Poverty Alleviation Coordination Council Pakistan. Dr Choudhry was appointed as the Founding Chief Executive Officer of Punjab Social Protection Authority in 2015, where he continued for five years. This authority is responsible for overseeing all welfare programmes in Punjab. In this capacity, he oversaw the design and initiation of several new welfare projects worth over 30 billion rupees, which resulted in the inclusion of over a million new beneficiaries to the social protection programmes. Currently, he advises DFID’s Sub-National Programme in Pakistan.
Stephen M. Lyon is Professor of Anthropology and Head of Educational Programmes and Development at the Aga Khan University's Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations in London. Professor Lyon was the Head of Anthropology at Durham University and was Lecturer, Senior Lecturer and Professor there from 2002-2018. He is the President of the Society for Anthropological Sciences, the Treasurer of the Pakistan Studies Group, that organises the annual Pakistan Workshop in the Lake District and is the Editor-n-Chief of the Social Science Computer Review. He has done extensive fieldwork in rural and urban Pakistan and has authored numerous publications on kinship, politics, education, religion and development.
Wednesday 8 July 2020, 12.00-13.00
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