Dr. Adnan Rafiq
Dr. Adnan Rafiq is Member Governance, Innovation and Reforms at the Planning Commission of Pakistan. He has a renowned professional career in the domain of public policy design and implementation spanning over almost two decades. He holds a PhD degree in Politics from the Department of Politics & International Relations at the University of Oxford. He also holds an MPhil degree in Innovation, Strategy & Organizations from Judge Business School, University of Cambridge.
Dr. Aasim Sajjad
Dr Aasim is a political worker, writer and teacher. He has published in numerous peer-reviewed journals and is a syndicated columnist in Pakistan’s leading newspaper. He is currently an Associate Professor of Political Economy at Quaid-i-Azam University in Islamabad, Pakistan.
Dr. Hussain Nadim
Dr. Hussain is a fellow at Transformations of the Human (ToftH). He is the Executive Director of Islamabad Policy Research Institute (IPRI). He was previously the director of South Asia Study Group at the University of Sydney. He has served in senior advisory roles in the Government of Pakistan on matters of security, development and foreign policy.
Dr. Salma Malik
Dr. Salma Malik is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Defence and Strategic Studies, Quaid-I-Azam University, Islamabad. Her research interests include strategic and security studies, politics of war and defence, security sector reform, conflict mitigation, human security, gender issues, impact of pandemics, South Asian Studies, confidence building, Kashmir, arms control, etc.
Working Committee on Safeguarding National Interest in a value based Political Landscape
Mr Muhammad Taimur Fahad Khan – Moderator
He is a Research Associate at the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad (ISSI). He is a graduate of Bahria University Islamabad and National Defence University. His research focuses on Foreign Policy Analysis and Non-Traditional Security Challenges. Currently, his research areas include Europe and Russia.
Mr Ahmad Ali
He has recently graduated from National Defence University, Islamabad with a degree in Strategic Studies. He has previously worked at the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad and the Institute of Regional Studies. His areas of interest include arms control and disarmament, emerging military technologies, and cyber security.
Elsa Imdad Hussain
She manages the Afghan Studies Center at CRSS and contributes to the political section of Matrix magazine, and works as a Project Coordinator for Bevond Boundaries. She has been part of the American Spaces in Pakistan. Her research interests include peace and conflict resolution, global politics, public and cultural diplomacy, capacity building of marginalised groups, etc.
Ms Haleema Saadia
Haleema Saadia is a lecturer at NUML and a Research Fellow at the ROADS Initiative. She is also a doctoral candidate at NUST. She is a South Asia Visiting Fellow at the Stimson Center. She is the Co-Chair of the Working Group on “Challenging Racism and White Supremacy in Nuclear Weapons Policy-Making” for BASIC’s 2023 Policy Cycle.
Mr Hamdan Khan
He is a Research Officer at Strategic Vision Institute (SVI), Islamabad. He is skilled in the field of global politics, primarily in great power politics, nuclear deterrence, programs and policies of nuclear weapons states, and emerging military technologies.
Mr Mian Ahmad Naeem Salik
He has been a Research Fellow at the Institute of Strategic Studies since July 2014. He holds degrees in B.Sc. Economics and Political Science from LUMS, and M.Sc. Development Economics from The University of Queensland Australia. His primary area of research is climate change, non-traditional security issues and global economic issues, and he is also a member of the Editorial Board at the institute.
Ms Neha Ayub
Neha Ayub is pursuing a Master’s degree in Peace and Conflict Studies at NUST, Islamabad. She is also a research fellow of the Hanns Seidel Foundation. Her research interests include non-traditional security threats, sustainable development, Pakistan’s national security, regional security studies, political economy and conflict resolution.
Mr Riaz Khokar
Riaz Khokhar is a Research Associate at the Center for International Strategic Studies, Islamabad. His research interests are great power politics in South Asia, Pakistan’s foreign policy, and South Asian strategic stability issues. Previously, he was also an Asia Studies Visiting Fellow at the East-West Center in Washington.
Ms Tayyaba Nisar Khan
She is a senior Research Journalist at Infer. She is lead of Civil Engagement Group at the Prime Minister National Youth Council. She is also a News Anchor with PTV-World. Her areas of interest include science, strategic and nuclear studies.
Ms Zunaira Inam Khan
Zunaira Inam Khan is a Research Analyst and Head of the Afghanistan Program at the Institute of Regional Studies. She is passionate about human rights advocacy and research. She has previously taught at Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad
Working Committee on Climate Consciousness
Ms Maha Hussain – Moderator
Maha Husain is the Team Lead for the Climate and Environment Initiative and a Research Associate at the Research Society of International Law. She graduated from the University of Cambridge and has completed climate change courses, including the Climate Change Law Short Course, the Climate Change and Water Short Course for South and South East Asia, and Climate Law and Governance Specialisation Course.
Mr Asif Javed
He is working as a Senior Research Associate in Sustainable Development Policy Institute, and pursuing PhD from Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad. He has completed his MPhil from Pakistan Institute of Development Economics. His key area of interest is goods and services trade including digital trade, – commerce, and Information and Communication Technology.
Ms Lubna Riaz
She is leading the Energy, Water and Climate Change Program at the Institute of Policy Studies Islamabad. She poses vast interest in renewable energy transition energy policy, climate change impacts, climate mitigation measures and sustainable development.
Ms Malaika Orakzai
She is currently working with the Development Policy Unit (DPU) as an intern. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Economics from the National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST) and has been awarded a scholarship twice for outstanding academic performance.
Ms Mariyam Amjad
Mariyum Amjad is an undergraduate student of International Relations at Quaid-i-Azam University. Her areas of interest include community volunteerism, peace building, geopolitics and non-traditional security challenges.
Mr Muhammad Asad Rafi
He works as Research Associate for the Federal Minister for Climate Change, where he assists and advises on issues related to climate change in Pakistan and globally. He is a Sciences Po – Paris School of International Affairs alumnus with a Masters in International Security. His area of expertise is climate change, South Asian foreign policy and security issues. He was also a researcher at UNESCO in Paris, and Tabadlab in Islamabad in the past.
Mr Muhammad Zahir
He is currently employed at the Center for Climate Research and Development, COMSATS University, Islamabad. He is pursuing a Ph.D. from Fujian Normal University, China. His field of interest includes environmental monitoring, particularly in relation to water pollution and the creation of early warning systems for water bodies by means of various satellite data sets.
Mr Qurban Ali
He is currently working as a Senior Policy and Liaison Officer in WWF Pakistan. His work focuses on mainstreaming gender in environmental and development initiatives and policies, addressing water and sanitation challenges in rural areas, and assisting communities most vulnerable to climate change.
Ms Rida Rashid
Ms. Rida is a 19 year old high school student and an avid climate justice activist. She runs a non-profit organization, IMPACT Pakistan, and is in the process of launching Pakistan’s first climate news platform. She also represented youth on various national and international panels and Pakistan at COP27. She has worked with UN delegates, government officials and climate experts.
Mr Sajid Hussain
He has over four years of career path on inclusive and multi-partner development with an intense sense of social work. He has also worked with various government and private organisations in areas including natural resource management. His thematic interests include climate change, data collection, field surveys, agroforestry, bio diversity and watershed conservation.
Working Committee on Curating Future Technologies’ Ecosystem
Muhammad Abbas Hassan – Moderator
Muhammad Abbas Hassan is a policy practitioner, international trainer and a seasoned national security professional with over 9 years of proven experience in public policy, strategic communications and planning, research and academia with an Executive MBA focused in Marketing and Management from NUST Business School. and a MPhil in International Relations awarded by National Defence University, Islamabad.
Aamna Rafiq is working as a Research Associate at the Institute of Strategic Studies, Islamabad. She has also worked with the Pakistan Institute for Parliamentary Services (PIPS), the Senate’s Standing Committee on Defence Production, the Parliament of Pakistan, and Strategic Plans Division (SPD). Her areas of specialisation include cybersecurity, militarisation of emerging technologies and arms control.
Abdul Moiz Khan
Abdul Moiz Khan is a Research Officer at Centre for International and Strategic Studies, Islamabad. He previously worked as a Research and Teaching Assistant at School of Politics and IR, Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad. His research interests include emerging technologies, strategic stability, military modernization and strategic doctrine.
Ahmad Saleem works as a Research Assistant at UNDP-UNICEF for the National Human Development Report 2023 team. Previously, he worked at UNDP as a part of the Youth Empowerment Programme, where he authored the draft Youth Policy of AJ&K. He frequently writes on development and governance issues in Pakistan’s leading daily, ‘The Nation.’
Ahyousha Khan is a Senior Research Associate at the Strategic Vision Institute, Islamabad. She completed her MPhil in Defence and Strategic Studies, from Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad. Her areas of interest are nuclear deterrence, non-proliferation, nuclear doctrines and emerging new technologies.
Ammad Farooq is currently heading the Cyber Security Program at the Institute of Regional Studies, Islamabad. His research interests include cyber security, artificial intelligence, deep learning and cyber warfare. He is passionate about staying abreast of the latest advancements in the cybersecurity landscape and strives to provide meaningful insights into the same.
Arsala Khan is a policy analyst at the Centre for Digital Transformation, Tabadlab. He aims to bring interdisciplinary methods to research and policymaking. Arsala’s academic training is in Political Science and History from IBA, Karachi.
Etfa Khurshid Mirza
Etfa Khurshid Mirza works as a Researcher at Centre for Aero Space and Security Studies (CASS). She is a graduate of National Defence University, Islamabad, from the Strategic Studies Department. Her area of specialisation is nuclear and strategic affairs. Her thematic interests include emerging technologies and arm control.
Gulraiz is a commentator on Space Politics and Postures of Conventional Deterrence in South Asia. Currently, he is an MPhil International Relations candidate at National Defence University, Islamabad.
Zaineb Arshad is a graduate of International Relations from The Queen Mary University of London currently employed as the Young Development Fellow at the Ministry of Planning Development and Special Initiative.
Working Committee on Entangled Binaries in the Absence of a Value-based Political Landscape
Abbas Moosvi – Moderator
Abbas Moosvi is a faculty member and Research Fellow at the Pakistan Institute of Development Economics, Islamabad. He is also the Managing Editor of Discourse by PIDE, one of the leading magazines on public policy and political economy. He has been a bi-weekly columnist at the Express Tribune since December 2021.
Dr. Hamid Iqbal
Dr. Hamid Iqbal is a senior lecturer in the department of International Relations at the National Defence University, Islamabad. He has previously worked as a Research Analyst at Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad. His areas of expertise include Theories and Approaches to IR, Politics and Foreign Policy of Pakistan, and Identity Politics. He [Co]authored a book and numerous articles in national and international Research Journals.
Mr Faizan Fakhar is working as an Assistant Research Associate at the Islamabad Policy Research Institute. He holds MPhil in Strategic Studies from NDU, Islamabad. He also taught courses on Strategic Studies and Peace and Conflict Studies at NDU and NUML. His areas of interest include governance and public policy, comparative politics, South Asia, and Technology.
Maryam Mirza is currently working as a Policy Associate at a public policy thinktank and advisory firm in Pakistan. Master’s graduate of International Politics from SOAS, with a regional focus on South Asia and the Middle East, and skilled in the field of Political Economy at the undergraduate level.
Syed Nasir Hassan is working as a Research fellow at Islamabad Institute of Conflict Resolution (IICR). He has participated in various national and international forums. He often writes for national and international newspapers and e-tabloids.
Noorulain Naseem is an academic and researcher on Afghan refugees, border security, and ethnonationalism. She is currently working with the Islamabad Policy Research Institute (IPRI) as a researcher on Pakistan-U.S. relations. She was a lecturer in the department of International Relations at NUML University and has been a visiting fellow at the Stimson Centre in Washington DC.
Tuba Azeem is a graduate of Shariah & Law from the International Islamic University. She is a licensed attorney and currently a doctoral candidate at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand, investigating the legal history of Med fisherfolk of Balochistan. She volunteers for inter-faith harmony projects and teaches Madrassa girls about critical reading of divine texts.
The Centre for Strategic and Contemporary Research conducted the second iteration of the “Young Researchers’ Convention (YRC) on the National Security Ecosystem of Pakistan” on 7 February 2023 at Hotel Margala, Islamabad. The convention brought together around 50 outstanding mid-career professionals and experts from Pakistan’s academic, research and policy circles to generate research agendas and propose action plans on themes including great power competition, climate change, technology and politics of identity.
The Executive Director of CSCR, Mr Anas Abdullah, inaugurated the convention. He emphasised that the nation still needs an intellectual compass, which motivated the Centre to conceive a researchers’ convention. Further highlighting the convention’s significance, keynote speaker, Dr Adnan Rafiq, Member of Governance, Innovation and Reforms at the Planning Commission of Pakistan, iterated that inclusivity is a perennial question in Pakistan’s policy-making system. Hence the critical mass of people offering original ideas is commendable.
Dr Aasim Sajjad Akhtar, Associate Professor Quaid-i-Azam University, while elaborating on “Entangled Binaries in the Absence of a Value-based Political System”, pointed out that our public perspectives focus more on rhetoric than facts. He remarked on the widespread lack of will or capacity to improve the system and view problems on a global instead of national level.
Fellow at the Transformations of the Human (ToftH), Dr Hussain Nadim underscored the need to give some definitional clarity to the theme of “Curating Future Technologies’ Landscape”. Talking about technology, he stated that all discourse in Pakistan becomes securitised. Ecosystems should be developed organically. If there is an injection of policy into the technology ecosystem, there will be a problem. For the state, the problem of integration is the major roadblock in terms of technology.
Elaborating on “Safeguarding National Interest in Turbulent Times”, Dr Salma Malik, Assistant Professor at the Quaid-i-Azam University, maintained that we keep our narrative on a negative tangent as we want to maintain a balance of terror. Reinforcing the need for the youth to develop the state’s own lexicon, she asked the participants to discover their land, learn new skills, and initiate startups. The fourth theme was titled “Guaranteeing Climate Consciousness”, in which the underlying narrative on climate change was assessed vis-a-vis on-ground action.
The committee, under the theme “Safeguarding National Interest in Turbulent Times”, produced a discussion on five broad questions. While evaluating a suitable geopolitical framework for Pakistan, the committee unanimously agreed that Pakistan should stick with the Asia-Pacific construct. As international deviation takes place, it is in Pakistan’s long-term interest to support an inclusive framework that is aligned with the policies of major regional powers. Presuming the event of escalation in the Taiwan conflict, the panellists emphasised that Pakistan should maintain a balanced position and a low profile. Pakistan must suggest de-escalation and resolution of the crisis via dialogue, all the while reiterating support for a one-China policy.
While gauging insights on Pakistan’s foreign policy equilibrium, participants agreed that geopolitics and geo-economics go hand in hand. Pakistan should focus on both but prioritise geo-economics slightly more. However, the first priority should be internal balancing, such as creating an industrial base, revamping the economic setup, focusing on improving sectors, markets, policy consistency, and exploring comparative advantage in case of geo-economic pursuits.
Dissecting the military interoperability challenge posed by India, panellists argued that Pakistan should improve its own military interoperability; and with partner countries, i.e., China, Turkey, etc. It must improve intelligence gathering and military readiness, create a discourse to highlight threats and ensure effective inter-forces communication, as well as between civil-military leadership.
Lastly, while addressing Pakistan’s Afghan policy in light of the recent insecurity, panellists argued that Pakistan needs to revise its Afghan policy by building regional consensus on Afghanistan and having a unified approach against the backdrop of the contemporary geo-political situation. Pakistan should address domestic concerns in border regions to address a plethora of security concerns in Pakistan. It should stop looking at Afghanistan only from a security lens and have broader engagement. It should take an uncompromising stance vis-à-vis TTP and Durand Line, and effectively engage the Afghan civil society with its current setup, in front of the international community.
The Working Committee on “Guaranteeing Climate Consciousness” deliberated on a number of diverse key points. While reflecting on ethnopolitical disequilibrium generated by climate change, the panellists argued that climate-induced migration is causing in-group and out-group disruptions resulting in ethnographic and social changes. Panellists also identified the ethnic biases and discriminations that migrant communities face. They argued that to prevent massive urbanisation, it is important to provide rural communities with incentives, i.e., address problems in rural areas instead of focusing entirely on urban areas’ issues.
Addressing the weaknesses in Pakistan’s disaster risk management (DRM) approach, the panellists suggested that Pakistan needs technological innovation in disaster management. There should be more investment in DRM technology, including real-time satellite mapping and online data dashboards for analytics. If indigenous technology is unavailable, the avenues for technology transfer from developed countries shall be explored.
Broadening their discussion further, the panellists argued that decentralisation of the response system to climate change and related disasters is very important. Decentralisation will not only streamline the resources in the correct direction but also help maintain order in curbing country-wide environmental crimes. The panellists also shed light on the urgency of addressing problems related to approaching the issue of climate change at the individual level.
They also discussed the effective use of climate finance in Pakistan, acknowledging that acquiring the donors’ trust through effective international marketing and projection of local initiatives is significant in securing climate finance. Pakistan needs to be diplomatically more creative, and the tactical hurdles and gaps must be overcome in climate finance applications. Lastly, the panellists argued that while striving towards regional cooperation, platforms like SAARC must actively engage the member states in knowledge and data sharing because climate change transcends geographical boundaries and political contestations.
The all-encompassing discussion on “Curating Future Technologies’ Ecosystem” revolved around several recurring sub-themes, including data security, digital censorship, digital currency, tech collaboration, and cyber policymaking. The discussion among the working committee began by debating the significance of digitalisation and the reliance on technology in Pakistan. Beginning with the issue of data security, the panellists agreed upon the fact that securing data is unrealised in the state. There is a need for data classification and data regularisation. Moreover, the Personal Data Protection Bill has not been ratified into law.
The debate surrounding digital censorship addressed the issue of unauthorised control by state authorities. The committee undertook that censorship is not a viable form of control. Besides encouraging data regulation, there is a need to create a middle ground between the state’s narrative and public sentiments, and to clearly define unlawful content. Moving ahead, digital currency is a workable solution to tackle the challenge of shadow economy. However, this is not a feasible solution for Pakistan in current times due to diverse constraints. Additionally, introducing digital currency comes with pre-defined measures, for instance, imposing a tax on the digital transaction, delisting currency notes, and registering all users.
Tech collaboration is one of the most fundamental elements to be taken into consideration when stepping towards technological advancement. To facilitate investors, panellists stressed issuing NOCs through a ‘one window operation’. Lastly, the committee’s concluding remarks surrounded the debate of upgrading the first-ever National Cyber Security Policy. Proper implementation, frequent policy review and introduction of industrial linkage were identified as some of the major components that needed to be added in the next policy.
The working committee on ‘Entangled Binaries in the Absence of a Value-Based Political Landscape’ discussed what national unifiers are for Pakistan. They identified what could and couldn’t be categorised as a positive unifier; they observed that Pakistan’s diversity should not be counted as a dividing factor. The panellists of the committee also deliberated on what would be a healthy relationship between the military and the civilian leadership, and they reached a conclusion that both sides should stay within the roles defined in the constitution. They also discussed in this regard who should decide what a matter of national security and national interest is. A conclusion was reached that all stakeholders should sit together and give their respective inputs, but in the end, it is the job of the civilian leadership which has formed a legitimate government.
The participants agreed that anyone who is in power, irrespective of their duration in power, only looks towards their own benefit and how they can amass more power and influence. They do not care about the average citizen, and that is the main problem of politics in the country. A politician would always gives preference to projects which would get him/her re-elected or an increased political clout rather than helping the people living in the periphery who are in actual need of this development. The panellists also agreed that power should be devolved to the local bodies, as they know what the specific need of the people in their constituency is rather than someone who is sitting in the provincial or federal capital; this would also ensure good governance as the citizens would actually be able to hold those in power accountable.
Lastly, the participants discussed what Pakistan could do in the future once it has solved all its internal problems. All were of the opinion that if that were to happen, Pakistan should try its best for regional integration and trade to benefit not only Pakistan but the region.
The concluding plenary session was attended by academicians and senior dignitaries from different international and national organizations. Some of whom were invited to share with the audience key takeaways from the presentations of each of the working committees.
The event was covered extensively by print, electronic and digital media. Below are snippets from the print and digital media sources, as well as the names of channels present for covering the event.
2. ‘Lack of will exists to improve political system’ (Dawn)
2. Scholars Gather For CSCR’s Flagship Young Researchers’ Convention 2023 (URDU POINT)
3. Young Researchers’ Convention on the National Security Ecosystem of Pakistan (APP)
4. Young Researchers’ Convention on the National Security Ecosystem of Pakistan (FM98 Dosti Channel)