The 2nd Annual International Conference on Development: Discourses and Critiques resumes at IBA Karachi

Lahore (Muhammad Yasir) The School of Economics and Social Sciences (SESS), in collaboration with the Center for Business and Economic Research (CBER) at the IBA Karachi, hosted day two of the 2nd Annual International Conference titled, ‘Development: Discourses and Critiques’. The three-day conference is taking place from March 25-27, 2022 at the IBA Karachi, Main Campus.

This year’s theme invites works from a wide range of disciplines to critique, question and reconsider the experiences of transnational, national and sub-national actors with the development process. What does ‘development’ mean for different actors, and how has this narrative shifted over time? How does development define and redefine power relations and what implications does this have for different groups? How have colonial experiences shaped futures and how does one deconstruct ideas rooted in these experiences?

To encourage innovation and diversity within modes of thinking, the conference is hosting presenters and participants from diverse backgrounds, including Skardu, Sukkur, Gilgit, Quetta, and Islamabad from Pakistan, and multiple professors from esteemed universities from the USA.

By centering radical subthemes, including but not limited to, decolonial and feminist frameworks, this conference aims to center critical perspectives that help us gain a nuanced understanding of social change and development.

The keynote address of the day and the second keynote for the conference, was Hans Timmer, Chief Economist, World Bank South Asia. The address emphasized the need to reorient the development sector’s emphasis towards the digital services and digital economy. Mr. Timmer underlined the need to account for the global mobility of capital through various interactions with the internet.

The first panel of the day, and the third one for the conference, was titled ‘Impact Evaluation of Public Policies.’ The discussion included the following five panelists: Dr. Ishrat Husain, Professor Emeritus IBA and Former Advisor to the Prime Minister; Dr. Sanval Nasim, Assistant Professor of Economics, Lahore University of Management Sciences; Najy Benhassine, Country Director of World Bank Pakistan, South Asia Region; Dr. Shehreen Mustafa, Civil Servant – Sindh Rural Support Organization; and Martin Dawson, Deputy Head of Mission and British Deputy High Commission. The panel discussed the importance of different strategies with which impact evaluation of public policies can be conducted.

The second panel of the day, and the fourth one for the conference, was titled ‘Why Pakistan failed to achieve sustainable economic growth?’. The following five discussants contributed to the discussion: Dr. Gonzalo Varela, Senior Economist, World Bank; Dr. Sajid Amin Javed, Research Fellow, Head Policy Solutions Lab – SDPC; Dr. Izza Aftab, Assistant Professor, Beaconhouse National University; Dr. Wasim Shahid Malick, Professor Mehbub ur Raschid Chair, University of Peshawar; and Dr. Muhammad Nasir, Assistant Professor, Economics department, IBA Karachi. The panelist brought their own unique and rich perspectives to the discussion that questioned the Pakistani economic growth at the intersection of employment generation and economic inclusion across the board. The discussion analyzed the role of structural issues, policy failures, and the potential growth capacity in this regard.

The third panel of the day, and the fifth one for the conference, was titled ‘Dissent,’ which included the following four discussants: Dr. S Akbar Zaidi, Executive Director, IBA Karachi; Dr. Aasim Sajjad Akhtar, Associate Professor of Political Economy, Quaid-e-Azam University; Sheema Kirmani, Social activist and Performer; and Asma Shirazi, Pakistani Journalist. This panel provided comparative perspectives from theoretical frameworks and grassroot organizing all over Pakistan to underline the interplay between the structure of domination and hegemony with perceptions of rights and citizenship. This panel provided critiques against such hegemonic power and underlined the alternative possibilities that grounded more towards equity, inclusion, and diversity.

An Inaugural ceremony on a collaboration between the IBA and World Bank on ‘Social Inequality Lab & Economic Growth and Forecasting Lab’ was also held. This collaboration intends on collecting more situated and expansive data on inequality and growth from across Pakistan using diverse methods that will further help in providing more accurate and relevant knowledge production and policies.

The first conversation of the day was titled ‘Social Inequality and the Dynamics of Political and Ethnolinguistic Divides in Pakistan, 1970-2018.’ The conversation engaged the following four thinkers: Dr. Sultan Mehmood, Assistant Professor, New Economics School, Moscow; Amber Shamsi, Director, CEJ, IBA Karachi; Dr. Aqdas Afzal, Assistant Professor of Economics, and Program Director, Habib University; Asim Bashir Khan, Economics, Public Finance Expert, IBA Faculty.

The second conversation was titled ‘Sludge: Administrative Burdens, Confusing Forms, Time Taxes, and Other Problems,’ where Professor Cass Sunstein, Professor at Harvard University engaged in a dialogue with Dr. Sahar Nadeem, Assistant Professor and Chairperson, Social Sciences & Liberal Arts, IBA Karachi.

The second day also included 50 presentations by undergraduate and graduate students who shared their work on various segments of the larger field of development. Two student circles on resistances also took place, the first did close readings of two poetic texts to trace themes of resistance towards unsustainable development within poetic memory, while the second circle by Karachi Bachao Tehreek discussed the greenwashing of dispossession through the case study of Malir Expressway.