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Express Tribune

Published Date: Jan 1, 2013

SDPI seminar: ‘Policy research by Islamabad-based experts neglects provinces’

Most organisations conducting policy-oriented research
are located in Islamabad and their research engages mostly with policymakers at
the federal level.

This
centralised flow of policy and research is quickly becoming problematic in the
country’s post-18th Amendment governance landscape, where the provinces will be
making their own policies.

These
were some of the findings of a mapping report commissioned by the Sustainable
Development Policy Institute (SDPI) at a seminar in Islamabad on Monday.

Titled
“Landscaping Policy Relevant Research in Pakistan: Identifying the Key Actors,”
the report surveyed the public and private research institutes working in the
country in seven areas, Economics, agriculture, health, governance, poverty and
peace and conflict. The information was collected through interviews by a team
of seven researchers.

The
findings were shared by Arif Nadeem, a doctoral student at the University of
Cambridge, who worked on the report. “Out of around 70 centres involved in
policy research in the seven areas, 32 are based in Islamabad,” Nadeem said.

Public
financing was mostly limited to public institutions or channelled through the
Higher Education Commission (HEC) to universities. But HEC funds are mostly
spent on science rather than policy-related research, Nadeem said. “The rest of
the research is mostly funded by multinational donor agencies.”

Nadeem
also gave an overview of the exact nature of research being done by research
centres in the seven areas.

Tariq
Banuri, who moderated the seminar, said universities are often a great source
of research in countries where there are multi-tiered structures of policy
making.

But
academic research at Pakistani universities is not up to the mark, he added.