Published Date: Jan 1, 2013
Government financing of research ‘extremely poor’
The policy research in Pakistan is geographically clustered in Islamabad and Lahore while there are very few policy research institutions in Karachi and none in KPK and Balochistan, said Sustainable Development Policy Institute’s visiting associate Arif Naveed here on Monday.
He was giving findings of a recent SDPI study while addressing a research seminar on “Landscaping policy relevant research in Pakistan: identifying the key actors” organised by SDPI. Prof Tariq Banuri from University of Utah, Salt Lake City, was in the chair.
Arif Naveed said that the 18th Amendment-led devolution poses a complex challenge to the policy makers, research community and development partners to fulfil the context specific research needs have devolved policy making. He said that while the country is struggling with its capacity to govern, there is limited research conducted on governance issues despite the increasing instability, insecurity and decentralisation in the country.
He said that the government financing of research is extremely poor and where it exists, is only focused on the technical and scientific aspects of agriculture, nutrition and health. Whereas, the critically important policy research areas are altogether ignored and are surviving on the resources offered by the international donor agencies. He observed that donor support to research is often short term and project driven. He nonetheless appreciated the historic role of USAID in strengthening institutions for research such as agricultural research institutions in Pakistan, HEC, PIDE, etc.
He said that the study based on the engagement with 100 research organisations in the public, non-government and private sectors including think-tanks, academia and donor agencies, presented the landscaping of the policy relevant research in Pakistan under themes such as economics, agriculture, food security and nutrition, health, poverty, equity, gender, social policy, governance, politics, political economy, conflict and peace and evaluation.
Dr. Tariq Banuri called on the policy research institutes to bridge the policy gaps and connect policy research agenda with the sustainable development in the country. He lamented that public institutes and universities were not producing quality research hence parallel institutes such as think tanks were established to fill the gaps.
On influencing policy makers, he said that there is some level of consensus between the political parties on certain issues and the policy research institutes must capitalise on this consensus through quality research input on issues of public interest and wider dialogue.