Archive for pakistan

SIPA Events – Interdisciplinary Talks

SIPA is a very busy place.  Each week there are 10-15 events that feature interesting speakers and panels on a variety of topics.  The following entry was contributed by Erisha Suwal, a second year student at SIPA.  Erisha is working in our office this year and she, along with several other students, will be contributing posts throughout the year.


While having lunch over lamb and rice with hot and white sauce, my Pakistani friends encouraged me to join them for a talk titled “ Pakistan 2010: The most dangerous decade begins.” The talk was organized by the Center for the Study of Democracy, Toleration, and Religion (CDTR). It is a Center that was founded after SIPA won a competitive grant and its main objective is to examine religion’s role in politics and international relations. The title was very intriguing and only the day before I had had a discussion   on how Pakistan seems to be in a constant state of turmoil. More than any other country. Perhaps even more than Afghanistan.  I joined them.

Christine Fair, Assistant Professor at the Center for Peace and Security Studies, Georgetown, was one of the panelists. She was speaking on ‘India and Pakistan in Afghanistan: Opportunities and Constraints.’  She argued that India had a strong interest in staying in Afghanistan especially to monitor Pakistan. She questioned why no one talks about India running intelligence operations in Afghanistan and why no one challenges India when it build schools very close to the Pakistani border. She claimed that the Pakistani Army personnel, particularly those in the lower ranks, want the U.S. out of Afghanistan because they believed that the American presence intensified Taliban presence in Afghanistan. Her talk led to a rich discussion on India, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

At the talk, I found out that Terry Eagleton was coming to speak the same evening   on “The New Atheism and the War on Terror.” Eagleton is an influential literary theorist and Distinguished Professor of English Literature at the University of Lancaster, who has written more than forty books. He gave an entertaining and insightful talk. The poster said, seating was on first come first serve basis. Usually I do not follow these warnings, but I’m glad I did this time. The room filled up very quickly and I ran into some SIPA professors. I saw Mahmood Mamdani, who teaches Political identities, State and Civil Wars in Africa and Theory, History, and Practice of Human Rightsand Professor S. Akbar Zaidi was also present. He teaches Political Economy of Pakistan: State, Society, and Economy.

Eagleton started off asking, “Why are atheists obsessed with religion as Puritans are obsessed with sex?”  He commented that Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens, whom he dubbed Ditchkins, were engaged in anti-god diatribe with zero conception of faith and theology. He also argued that rise of Islamic fundamentalism was similar to “chickens coming home to roost.” Eagleton delivered provocative and controversial but witty statements and entertained his audience.

CDTR co-organized Terry Eagleton’s lecture with Heyman Center for the Humanities. I missed going to lectures outside of class. It is easy to immerse oneself in course-works and socializing, Wednesday’s two lectures reminded me of how being in Columbia exposes you to cutting edge discussions in whatever field it might be.

Pakistan Flooding – First Hand View

One of the great benefits of SIPA is that no matter where in the world something is happening, you will likely share a class with someone from the place where “x” is happening.  Just yesterday I received an email from an incoming student from Pakistan.  He wrote a post for the SIPA student blog, The Morningside Post (TMP).

Yes, SIPA students have their own blog and I would recommend adding it to your RSS feeds as well.  He has experienced the horrific floods in Pakistan first hand and this is a short part of his entry, visit TMP for the entire post:


Flood-hit Jampur, Pakistan (AP Photo/B.K.Bangash)

Despite these odds, the unbelievable resilience of the Pakistani people continues to amaze me. A sad, constant stream of images of people wading through flood water or being marooned on roof tops and trees can be seen on the national electronic and print media. Yet in the faces of these people one can see a will to survive and live that is hard to describe in words.

They have lost their homes, lands, livestock and in many cases their loved ones, but continue to struggle and cope as best they can. These millions of flood victims need our continued support. The government needs to perform better so that the trust of the people and the international community can be restored in its ability to conduct the massive relief and rehabilitation effort that is required.

With the monsoons predicted to stay around in the coming weeks, the future still looks uncertain. I feel tormented having to leave Pakistan at this time in order to join Columbia for the start of my graduate degree. However, there is consolation in thinking that I might be able to increase awareness about the plight of my countrymen through this blog.

I would urge everyone reading this to please contribute to one of the many international aid agencies currently operating in Pakistan. We are extremely grateful for every cent or penny that is donated. But most of all, our gratitude is reserved for the international community’s wishes and prayers, and the hope that we will not be forgotten in this trying time.

Today at SIPA: Global Mayor's Forum


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SIPA Global Mayor’s Forum

Urban Policy, Global Challenges: A Conversation with Syed Mustafa Kamal, Mayor of Karachi, Pakistan

1501, International Affairs Building
420 West 118th Street
New York, NY

Co-sponsored with:
Columbia University’s South Asia Association and SIPA’s Urban Policy Concentration.

South Asia Institute: Distinguished Lecturer Series

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.

SIPA Faculty Member Comments on Recent Elections in India

It is not unusual to see SIPA faculty in the news and recently SIPA faculty member Arvind Panagariya joined Martin Savidge of World Focus to discuss the recent national elections in India and what the U.S. and Pakistan can expect from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during his second term in office.  To view the full video and the accompanying story, please visit the World Focus Web site.

"The most global public policy school, where an international community of students and faculty address world challenges."

—Merit E. Janow, Dean, SIPA, Professor of Practice, International and Economic Law and International Affairs

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