SIPA student have access to many events each week and most of that has to do with the 20 different regional and functional institutes associated with policy analysis. The South Asia Institute is sponsoring the following event today:
“South Asia? West Asia? The location and identities of Pakistan”
A talk by S. Akbar Zaidi (Karachi University)
While Pakistan’s geographical location has not shifted in the last 38 years, there has been a marked shift in terms of its identity and associations. In the past, what is now Pakistan was closer to, and more part of, the larger South Asian or “Indian subcontinental” identity, but it has now “corrected its direction” (apna qibla durust kar liya hai). In some ways, the Pakistani identities of the Muslim and the South Asian/Indian are competing identities, often mutually exclusive. A secular India with a Muslim minority would not wish for a stronger Muslim South Asian identity while a Muslim Pakistan may not want to belong to an idea or union, in which it would be marginalised and subservient to a power which it sees as its nemesis. With far greater Islamisation and with petro-dollars playing a critical role in Pakistan’s political economy, in some ways, it would be fair to say that Pakistan has been excavated out of South Asia and replanted into a wider Islamic Middle East.
Dr. S Akbar Zaidi is one of Pakistan’s best known and most prolific political economists. Apart from his interest in political economy, he also has great interest in development, the social sciences, and increasingly, in history. His forthcoming Political Economy and Development in Pakistan will be his twelfth book. His other books include The New Development Paradigm: Papers on Institutions, NGOs, Gender and Local Government (1999), and Issues in Pakistan’s Economy (2005). He taught at Karachi University for thirteen years, and was a visiting Professor at Johns Hopkins University (2004-05). He holds a PhD from the University of Cambridge and lives and works in Karachi.