Lahore: The first day of “Pathways to Development: Equitable and Sustainable Growth in Pakistan” saw prominent academics, researchers, social scientists, practitioners, policymakers, politicians, and great minds from the Pakistani diaspora gather at LUMS to discuss issues vital to sustainable development in Pakistan.
The conference was organised jointly by the Chaudhry Nazar Muhammad Department of Economics and the Mahbub ul Haq Research Centre at LUMS, the Institute of Development & Economic Alternatives (IDEAS), the Institute of Development Studies at University of Sussex (IDS), Consortium for Development Policy Research (CDPR), International Growth Centre, and Centre for Economic Research in Pakistan (CERP).
Rector, LUMS, Mr. Shahid Hussain, formally inaugurated the conference and expressed great pride in the University for being the frontrunner in furthering dialogue for development. He said, “The role of any academic institution is to nurture an environment where people with curious minds can pursue their goals. Higher education has a huge role to play in exchange of new ideas and research. For that reason, we are proud to be hosting this conference this year.” The inauguration session included participation from Mr. Mueen Afzal Chairperson of the Board of Director from Institute of Development & Economic Alternatives, Mr. Maroof A. Syed, President & CEO of Centre for Economic Research in Pakistan and Ms. Shandana Khan Mohmand, Cluster leader and Research Fellow at Institute of Development Studies.
With an exceptional speaker line-up, the theme for day one revolved around how Pakistan can become more growth and export-oriented. The programme began with a well-attended panel discussion on macro stability and growth in Pakistan, featuring, Dr. Hafeez Pasha, renowned economist; Mr. Mohsin Khan, Advisor to the Board of Director, IDEAS; Mr. Murtaza Syed, Deputy Governor, State Bank of Pakistan, and Ms. Aliya Khan, Former Dean, Faculty of Social Sciences, Quaid-e-Azam University. The session was moderated by Mr. Ijaz Nabi, Pakistan Country Director International Growth Centre. Pressing issues like inflation, foreign exchange reserves and taxation in Pakistan, were highlighted.
The sessions featuring Justice Mr. Athar Minallah and Mr. Gonzalo Varela, senior economist at the World Bank, focused on the failings, lessons and challenges of the justice system as well as export and innovation challenges in Pakistan. The subsequent plenary session with Ms. Ghazala Mansuri, Lead Economist, Poverty Reduction & Equity Group, World Bank and Mr. Imran Rasul, Professor of Economics, University College London, shed light on climate change, building resilience and the importance, challenges, and future of agribusiness.
Day one concluded with a much-awaited panel discussion on fostering inclusive development with Dr. Sania Nishtar, Senator; and Dr. Miftah Ismail, former Federal Minister for Finance and Revenue, Government of Pakistan. The discussion was moderated by Dr. Ali Hasanain, Associate Professor of Economics, LUMS. The speakers discussed the gender and geographic inequities in the country, factors leading to impaired inclusive growth, lack of public policy measures rooted in law, and transparency of an audit entity as the pathway to accountability.
Conference Day 2 involved several sessions discussing issues of critical importance for sustainable development in Pakistan. These included teachers, systems and human capital, population challenges, gender and labour markets, reforming energy for development, universities, development and building back better and institutional frictions, climate, and the rural economy. Some notable speakers from this day included Dr. Attiya Inayatullah, President Emeritus FPAPAK and Former Federal Minister for Population Welfare, Govt. of Pakistan, who addressed the population challenge in Pakistan and Mr. Makhdum Hashim Jawan Bakht, Former Minister of Finance Punjab, MPA who chaired the session on institutional frictions, climate, and the rural economy.
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While talking about Gender and Labour Market, Dr. Hadia Majid, Assistant Professor at the Department of Economics, talked about gender discrimination in an online marketplace, “We are trying to figure out whether women who come as buyers in the online marketplace face any discrimination.”
Dr. Leonard Wantchenkon, Professor of Political Economy Princeton University, and Dr. Shandana Khan Mohmand, Research Fellow IDS University of Sussex, had a discussion on “Political Distortions, Institutional Experimentation and Development”. Dr Leonard explained, “For institutions to deliver good policies, we need inclusive and open institutions with an orientation towards common goals, deliberation about means to achieve goals and joint ownership of decisions”
With this conference, the audience had the opportunity to hear from renowned specialists from several fields, as they presented their most recent research on growth and development in Pakistan over 20 riveting sessions. Such initiatives help start meaningful conversations towards building the foundation of a growth-oriented and sustainable Pakistan.