The inaugural Harvard College Pakistan Weekend (HCPW), titled Ensuring Economic Progress in the Pakistan of the Future, took place on April 19th and 20th, 2014 with approximately 200 people in attendance. The successful event, held at Harvard Law School, was a manifestation of the hard work by the Harvard College Pakistan Students Association (HCPSA), and was co-sponsored by the South Asia Institute.
The conference followed a busy schedule; the first day was filled with keynote speeches by Aly Jeddy, Partner at The Abraaj Group, Shujaat Nadeem, Chairman of Samba Bank, Pakistan, and Humayun Akhtar Khan, Former Commerce Minister of Pakistan, among others. Panels focused on education policy and the energy crisis. Breakout-style interactive discussion sessions with experienced panelists from Pakistan and the United States also gave students the opportunity to interact with experts. The second day focused mainly on law and technology, dealing with pertinent issues that have arisen over the last few decades.
The conference was attended not only by members of the Pakistani community at Harvard and in the Boston Area, but also by students from all over the East Coast and many of the Ivy League schools. This diversity led to broad discussions, yielding a quality of discourse that could not have been possible without such an enthusiastic and well-rounded audience.
Key discussion issues included the energy crisis in Pakistan, the entity of law and the problems related to its implementation, finance and economic opportunities in the region, as well as education, and how it can be used to bridge the gaps between the different strata of Pakistani society. The lunch and tea breaks turned into informal extensions of these discussions, and allowed attendees the rare opportunity to build their networks of professionals and students affiliated with Pakistan.
Overall, the conference was an immense learning experience for all parties involved. HCPSA hopes to make this an annual occurrence in order to further the group’s goal: to keep the international narrative involving Pakistan headed in a positive and constructive direction.
-By Eman Riaz Ahmed, Harvard College Class of 2016
“Harvard Pakistan Weekend was a brilliantly organized event! (…) I particularly enjoyed the panels on education and energy, as they really hit at the core of the problems facing Pakistan. I really hope this event becomes an annual gathering, remaining true to its purpose!”
– Sundus Noeen, Mt. Holyoke College
“As a first-time attendee, I was curious to see how a conference with such a holistic approach towards Pakistan would be maneuvered. However, Harvard College Pakistan Weekend’s inaugural edition hit the rare trifecta of quality speakers, informative sessions, and great organization and did not deviate from its goal of offering an alternative narrative on Pakistan. Moreover, the HCPW team did a great job of bringing together leading industry experts to discuss the pertinent topics shaping the local and international media space. In particular, I enjoyed the panel discussion on Pakistan’s legal system and the keynote speech on private sector growth by Mr. Aly S. Jeddy, Partner at The Abraaj Group. Due to the interactive nature of the conference, I had the pleasure of meeting countless industry veterans and rising-star entrepreneurs, as well as students and student-leaders from both across and beyond the US. I came away with the distinct feeling of having experienced great content on Pakistan delivered in a professional manner – excellent illustrations and application – enough humor – good pace – I did not feel that it dragged out at any time. But most importantly, I came away with a deeper understanding of and greater responsibility towards Pakistan.”
– Zuha Jamil, New York University ’15
“HCPW was a great initiative (…). Having such discussions among ourselves is just a step stone towards pragmatically achieving some of the development goals discussed at the conference. I particularly enjoyed the Moving Beyond the Energy Crisis and The Public Private Education Paradigm panels. I hope whatever each of us took away from the conference will motivate us to contribute to the economic progress of Pakistan in any way possible.”
-Alizeh Zaman, Mount Holyoke College
“Listening to Adil Najam was both entertaining and educational. I enjoyed listening to the energy and education panel as it was a wake up call for me, knowing that load shedding is a difficult quagmire occurring in Pakistan and public education requires dire help. The panelists were truly knowledgeable and an honor for me to meet.”
-Umme Lena, Mt. Holyoke University
Visit the Conference’s Twitter page for quotes from the panels.
View the gallery below for more photos: