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Published Date: Dec 31, 2012

SDPI PRESS RELEASE (December 31,2012)

A recent study by Sustainable Development Policy Institute reveals that policy research in Pakistan, given the history of Islamabad based policy making, is geographically clustered in Islamabad and Lahore. There are very few policy research institutions in Karachi and none in KPK and Balochistan.

The study was presented at a research seminar “landscaping policy relevant research in Pakistan: identifying the key actors” organized by Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) here on Monday.  Dr Tariq Banuri, Professor, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, USA and Founding Executive Director, SDPI chaired the session while Arif Naveed, Visiting Associate, SDPI and doctoral student at University of Cambridge, UK presented the study results. Dr. Shehryar Khan moderated the proceedings.

Briefing participants, Arif Naveed, stated that the 18th Amendment led devolution poses a complex challenge to the policy makers, research community and development partners to fulfill the context specific research needs of devolved policy making. He added 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 decentralization in the country.

Citing study results, he said that 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 added 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.

The study was based on the engagement with 100 research organizations in the public sector, non-government sector and private sector, including think-tanks, academia and donor agencies. The study presented the landscaping of the policy relevant research in Pakistan under seven themes such as economics; agriculture, food security and nutrition; health; poverty, equity, gender and social policy; governance, politics and political economy; conflict and peace; and evaluation.

Speaking on the occasion, 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 stated 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 was of the view that there is some level of consensus between the political parties on certain issues and the policy research institutes must capitalize on this consensus through quality research input on issues of public interest and wider dialogue.

Responding to available options in view of devolved policy making to provinces, he opined for possibility of establishing regional centers at provinces and also urged provincial governments to strengthen policy research institutes in provinces.

During question answer session, the participants discussed the importance of converting research into policies. They urged on policy relevant research and stressed on possibility of research commercialization. They also discussed fragmentation within research fraternity, their technical and financial capacity, output and impact of research conducted at various policy institutes in Pakistan.