Asia Program

Wilson Center, Fellowship Fund for Pakistan Join Forces to Expand Study of Pakistan in Washington, D.C.

Dec 15, 2003

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WASHINGTON, D.C.--- The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, in collaboration with the Fellowship Fund for Pakistan (FFFP), a charitable trust based in Karachi, announced today a significant expansion of the Center’s Pakistan programming. In a ceremony at the Wilson Center, the Honorable Lee H. Hamilton, president and director of the Wilson Center, and Munawar Z. Noorani, FFFP chairman, signed an agreement that lays the foundation for a greatly expanded focus by the Center on Pakistan, Pakistan’s economy, and U.S. -Pakistani relations.

Highlighting this new Pakistan emphasis will be an annual competition open to scholars from Pakistan or of Pakistani origin. One Pakistan scholar will be selected each year to spend nine months in residence at the Wilson Center, where (s)he will carry out advanced, policy-oriented research and writing.

The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars is Washington’s only independent, wide-ranging, non-partisan institute for advanced research where vital current issues and their historical and cultural background are explored through research and dialogue. Created by the Congress of the United States as the nation’s official memorial to its twenty-eighth president, the Center seeks to commemorate through its residential fellowship program both the scholarly depth and the public policy concerns of Woodrow Wilson.

The Fellowship Fund for Pakistan has been recently established to provide Pakistan's highest quality thinkers with opportunities to participate in international deliberations on current and future issues facing Pakistan through dialogue with global opinion leaders and policymakers, scholars, and experts. FFFP also seeks to promote non-partisan scholarship at international forums in order to encourage free, informed and serious dialogue on issues of public interest to Pakistan and the United States. Its founder Trustees are leading figures in Pakistan's business and financial community, namely, Mian Mohammed Abdullah, Bashir Alimohamed, Nasser Jaffer, A. Razzak Tabba, and Munawar Z. Noorani. The Honorary Secretary of the FFFP is managing director of the Daily Times, Ms. Ayesha T. Haq.

“Pakistan is far too large and far too important to be ignored,” observed Rep. Hamilton during the signing ceremony. “And yet, we in Washington have not given Pakistan the attention its size and centrality, its current and, even more, its potential influence requires. So it gives me considerable pleasure to join my good friend Munawar Noorani in establishing this new program at the Wilson Center,” Hamilton commented. “It is my hope that by hosting conferences and seminars on Pakistan-related issues, and by bringing Pakistani scholars to Washington for extended periods of reflection and writing, the Wilson Center can help foster a greater understanding of each country in the other. Ultimately, of course, one hopes that better understanding will lead to better policies, on the part of both countries, and to closer, mutually beneficial bilateral relations.”

Noorani, a banker with a distinguished international career working with leading global financial institutions, and currently Director, Global Aviation for Central, Eastern Europe, Middle East & Africa for Citigroup, remarked: "Many Pakistanis, including our intellectuals, believe that what is said about Pakistan in the West is perception rather than reality. In contrast, many international opinion makers believe that some Pakistani intellectuals are not entirely realistic in the analysis of their surroundings. There has, therefore, been a desperate need to create a dialogue between Pakistani and international scholars and opinion makers, and FFFP is attempting to fill this need.”

Noorani said that the precipitant for this initiative was a comment made a year ago by Rep. Hamilton that Pakistani scholars must become a part of the intellectual debates going on in Washington. He continued: “Rep. Hamilton’s comment struck a chord not only with me, but with every single businessman, diplomat, professional, and intellectual to whom I spoke in Pakistan to fund the project or serve in an advisory capacity.”

Noorani added: “FFFP’s Board is grateful to Mr. Hamilton for his vision and commitment to this Program, to the Wilson Center for its confidence in FFFP and to the Center’s Asia Program director, Bob Hathaway, for his untiring efforts to establish this Program aimed at creating a better understanding of issues currently being discussed between our two nations.”

Rep. Hamilton expressed the Wilson Center’s deep appreciation to Mr. Noorani, whom the former congressman described as “the driving force” behind the new Pakistan program. Hamilton also voiced gratitude toward the other founding trustees and financial supporters of the FFFP – “friends who have put their money where their mouths are, and whose support and guidance in the months ahead will be essential if we are to build the Wilson Center into a major intellectual resource for the study of Pakistan.”

Also present during the signing ceremonies were Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States, Ashraf Jehangir Qazi, and former U.S. ambassador to Pakistan, William B. Milam, now a Senior Policy Scholar at the Wilson Center.

The initial activity of the new Pakistan program will be an all-day conference at the Wilson Center on January 27, 2004, where the topic will be Islamization and the Pakistani Economy. Keynoting that event will be the governor of the State Bank of Pakistan, Ishrat Husain. Other seminars, workshops, and conferences will be held on a periodic basis.

The fellowship competition being established by this program will be open to men and women who are from Pakistan or who are of Pakistani-origin. Applications will be accepted from individuals in academia, business, journalism, government, law, and related professions. Candidates must be currently pursuing research on key public policy issues facing Pakistan designed to bridge the gap between the academic and the policymaking worlds. The first scholar selected under this program will arrive at the Wilson Center in September 2004.

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