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Global Go To Think Tank Index (GGTTI) 2020 launched                    111,75 Think Tanks across the world ranked in different categories.                SDPI is ranked 90th among “Top Think Tanks Worldwide (non-US)”.           SDPI stands 11th among Top Think Tanks in South & South East Asia & the Pacific (excluding India).            SDPI notches 33rd position in “Best New Idea or Paradigm Developed by A Think Tank” category.                SDPI remains 42nd in “Best Quality Assurance and Integrity Policies and Procedure” category.              SDPI stands 49th in “Think Tank to Watch in 2020”.            SDPI gets 52nd position among “Best Independent Think Tanks”.                           SDPI becomes 63rd in “Best Advocacy Campaign” category.                   SDPI secures 60th position in “Best Institutional Collaboration Involving Two or More Think Tanks” category.                       SDPI obtains 64th position in “Best Use of Media (Print & Electronic)” category.               SDPI gains 66th position in “Top Environment Policy Tink Tanks” category.                SDPI achieves 76th position in “Think Tanks With Best External Relations/Public Engagement Program” category.                    SDPI notches 99th position in “Top Social Policy Think Tanks”.            SDPI wins 140th position among “Top Domestic Economic Policy Think Tanks”.               SDPI is placed among special non-ranked category of Think Tanks – “Best Policy and Institutional Response to COVID-19”.                                            Owing to COVID-19 outbreak, SDPI staff is working from home from 9am to 5pm five days a week. All our staff members are available on phone, email and/or any other digital/electronic modes of communication during our usual official hours. You can also find all our work related to COVID-19 in orange entries in our publications section below.    The Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) is pleased to announce its Twenty-third Sustainable Development Conference (SDC) from 14 – 17 December 2020 in Islamabad, Pakistan. The overarching theme of this year’s Conference is Sustainable Development in the Times of COVID-19. Read more…       FOOD SECIRITY DASHBOARD: On 4th Nov, SDPI has shared the first prototype of Food Security Dashboard with Dr Moeed Yousaf, the Special Assistant to Prime Minister on  National Security and Economic Outreach in the presence of stakeholders, including Ministry of National Food Security and Research. Provincial and district authorities attended the event in person or through zoom. The dashboard will help the government monitor and regulate the supply chain of essential food commodities.

From my bookshelf: ‘Many Pakistani writers have produced excellent works’
By: By Sanam Zeb
Kaiser Bengali — economist and social scientist
Kaiser Bengali — economist and social scientist


Q: What books are you currently reading?

A: I am reading the ‘History of Nepal’ by John Whelpton, because I recently visited Kathmandu and I wanted to know more about Nepal. The book chronicles the history of Nepal over the last 75 years including the rise of Maoists in Nepal, the conspiracy against the royal family and the general political circumstances.

I also just read ‘After the Prophet’ by Lesley Hazleton which is an account of the successors of the prophet (PBUH). The book is very well written but the last chapter in which she recounts the martyrdom of [Imam] Hussein is very weak and there is a lot of missing information. I have studied Islamic history and biographies of Hussein, so I know that a lot of information is missing. It seems like she has gotten her information not from research, but from what you hear in various majalis.

I am also reading the biography of Ghaus Khan Bizenjo, who served as the governor of Balochistan in the 1970s. He was a fascinating man. He went to study at the Aligarh University, and I think that was a great achievement for a boy from a small village in Khardar. Bizenjo wanted to be a footballer, but because he could not get into a team, he chose to come into politics instead. He always regretted not being able to pursue football.

I always find the best books at airports and hotel lobbies. I picked up a book about the earthquake in Quetta in 1935 and the destruction it brought at the Quetta airport and it proved to be a very interesting read.

Q: Which classic were you unable to finish?

A: I recently started reading a translation of Ibn-i-Khaldun’s ‘Muqadimah’. Ibn-i-Khaldun lived some 1,000 years ago and he wrote about the culture and politics of that time and of his travels.

The book is a laborious read, or maybe it was for me because you cannot relate to anything from so long ago. I felt like the discussion of the political situation at that time was irrelevant and by reading the book, I was not going to be enlightened. So, I only made it through the first chapter and left the rest. I think that is the only book I have not finished reading.

Q: Which book do you return to again and again?

A: The only book I have read for the second time is Leo Tolstoy’s ‘War and Peace’. It is a fascinating read, partly because Russian authors describe everything in so much detail and so well, from the curtains to dresses and decor. You almost feel like you are part of the story.

The book is also politically nuanced and pre-dates the Russian Revolution. I feel like it relates to the political situation in Pakistan, because we also have our political elite live in great luxuries while the masses suffer poverty. Our situation is not as bad, but I still feel like I could relate to the book because we have a similar political scenario in Pakistan.

Q: Who do you think is an underrated writer?

A: There are a lot of Pakistani authors who have produced excellent works. I think the best example will be ‘A Case of Exploding Mangoes’ by Mohammad Hanif, which was extremely well written and relates to events you have been through and is set at the time of the death of General Ziaul Haq. The book flirts dangerously with reality and fiction, and at times you do not know if what you are reading is true or made up. It does not drag at all.

Hanif shows how the ISI operates and how the head of the ISI gets his own employees murdered for being Christian. You feel as if the writer must have had a lot of information, like he must have been part of the information structure, which he was not, because I know Hanif. And yet he exposes so many truths about how things work in Pakistan, including corruption.

Q: What are you planning to read next?

A: I am trying to get my hands on Nicola Khan’s ‘Mohajir Militancy’. I am interested in reading this book because I have also researched into the topic and about 15 years ago, my paper on the ‘Anatomy of Ethnic Militancy’ which was published by the SDPI.

In the 1950s, mohajirs controlled the politics, bureaucracy, industry and banking in the country and over time, this control has loosened. So, the mohajir militancy is a result of the loss of power instead of deprivation.

There is a book by Laurent Gayer called ‘Karachi’, in which he looks at Karachi from the perspective of the control of resources including Land and bhatta, which is related to violence and of which the MQM is very much a part of. He has studied who looks after which battle and how all these battles have shred Karachi. But, that was many years ago and I want to see how what angle Nicola has taken.


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The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the viewpoint or stance of SDPI.