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The second annual Harvard Pakistan Forum took place on March 28th and 29th, 2015 at Harvard. With approximately 250 people in attendance, it was an eclectic mix of people from different walks of life, all connected by their interest in some facet of a modern-day Pakistan.

The conference followed a packed schedule; keynote speakers included Dr. Ishrat Husain, Dr. Sania Nishtar, Mr. Hussain Dawood and Ms. Sultana Siddiqui. Panel discussions this year grappled with a much more diverse range of topics than last year’s conference, and there were some very involved and breakout-style interactive discussion sessions. The four main areas of discussion and debate were Policy Change, the Arts, Entrepreneurship and Afghanistan-Pakistan relations – all under the umbrella of Rediscovering Pakistan as a modern nation.

The conference was attended by members of the Pakistani community as well as students interested in South Asia at Harvard and in the Boston Area. Students from all over the East Coast and other parts of the country also attended. This led to a much broader discussion, consequently yielding a quality of discourse that could not have been possible to attain without such an involved and well-rounded audience.

Key issues that came under discussion included the role of arts in catalyzing social change, the entity of law, policy-making and the problems related to its implementation, entrepreneurial opportunities in the region, as well as foreign policy in the Af-Pak context and how it is changing post-NATO pullout. The lunch and tea breaks turned into informal extensions of these discussions, and also allowed our attendees a rare opportunity to extend their network of professionals and students affiliated in one way or the other with Pakistan. A welcome and successful addition this year was a cultural event, with Lahore-based band Poor Rich Boy performing for the attendees.

Overall, the conference was an immense learning experience for all parties involved; the Pakistan Student Association is looking forward to hosting this conference again next year, in order to further our goal: to keep the international narrative involving Pakistan headed in a positive and constructive direction.

SAI was a cosponsor the event.

– Eman Riaz Ahmed, Harvard College 2016

Media: Pakistan conference at Harvard University kicks off – The New International