Asset 1

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.

Regional Integration.

Pakistan Economic Cooperation with Afghanistan and Central Asia

Partners: IM Sciences Peshawar, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Commerce, Afghanistan Information Management Services

Duration: September to December 2014

Locale: Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa

Team Members:

Dr Vaqar Ahmed,Dr yasir Kamal, Saad Shabir, Nohman Ishtiaq, Sameem Akhtar, Asif Javed,Wahab Farooq, Sadika Hameed


  • Economic opportunities and major challenges in post 2014 Afghanistan and their impact on Pakistan and other actors in Central Asia. The term ?actors? here is not limited to states or their institutions. We are also interested to look into the efforts of multilateral organizations and the private sector in the region.
  • Review estimates from recent studies highlighting expected changes in Afghanistan-Pakistan commercial and transit (commercial & non-commercial) trade flows following ISAF drawdown in Afghanistan.
  • Review current arrangements and future possibilities of strengthening bilateral trade arrangements/agreements between Afghanistan and Pakistan.


This project is being initiated at a point when both governments (Afghanistan and Pakistan) have vowed to pursue trade and investment cooperation and link these efforts with the wider politico-economic developments in Central Asia. These developments include recent initiatives such as CASA, CAREC, Heart of Asia Process, New Silk Road Initiative and upcoming SAARC and ECO summits.

In the post NATO exit milieu, any disturbance that deteriorates the political relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan will result in: reduction of the formal bilateral trade, reduced commercial transit, possible increase in IDPs and refugees flowing from Afghanistan to Pakistan, and a rise in terror threat to the Pakistani population neighboring Afghanistan. As we will show latter that many have come out of chronic and transient poverty as a result of increased trade with Afghanistan, however under the scenario where NATO cargo is finished and there is a reduction in formal trade (if any) this population is poised to slip below the poverty line. It is against this idea that we aim to analyze the impact of Afghanistan transition on the economy of Pakistan, Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in particular.


  • Eield survey for data collection conducted in all provinces.
  • Seminar held.


  • Illegal means, negligence of government and poor infrastructure is becoming an impediment in the way of free flow of trade between Pakistan and Afghanistan.
  • Closure of trains to Chaman increased the time and cost of production, as traders ?have to rely on road network, which is not yet developed properly.
  • Customs house at Chaman lack basic facilities such as electronic scanning; ?Not enough space is available there to facilitate a large number of trucks at a time.
  • Business community ?demands that the government, besides improving law and order situation in the country, should improve relation with Afghanistan ?so as to strengthen economic ties ?with the neighbouring country.

Economy of Tomorrow South Asia Forum

Partner: Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES)

Team: Dr. Vaqar Ahmed, Muhammad Adnan, Muhammad Hamza Abbas, Safwan A. Khan, Danish Hassan, Syed Shujaat Ahmed, Wasif Naqvi and Mahnoor Arshad

In the wake of economic, ecological and social challenges across countries and continents, a consensus is building for the need of new models to lead societies onto a path of sustainable economic growth. Reaching consensus on the new models requires deeper understanding of economic discourses and the political economy of reforms in countries, regions and at a global level. In this context     SDPI in collaboration with the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) through its offices in Asia and Europe started the Economy of Tomorrow (EOT) project by bringing together economic thinkers from the two regions to exchange ideas for building up the schematics of an economic model for a socially inclusive, financially sustainable and ecologically dynamic growth to produce conditions for a good society with full capabilities for all, as well as suggest ways and means to promote a public and policy agenda for the newly required development path.


To identify an alternative development path and form discourse coalitions for its implementation


SDPI in collaboration with FES organized a pre-budget meeting in Islamabad with the objective to present proposals from extensive consultations held across Pakistan under the ‘Economy of Tomorrow (EoT) Programme’. Our proposals brought together inputs from the private sector, consumer and labour interest groups, development partners and overseas investors. The event also included launch of the book on “Growth and Inequality in Pakistan” authored by the EoT Programme Convener, Dr. Hafiz A. Pasha, former Federal Minister and United Nations Asst. Secretary General. The book presents a comprehensive reform agenda for inclusive economic growth and advocates for working towards socio- ecological sustainability as the precondition for robust development in Pakistan.

Findings: For findings please visit


Status: Ongoing

Regional Investments and Value Chains in South Asia: A Survey of Investor and Potential Investors

Partner: World Bank

Duration: May 2016-June 2017

Locale: Pakistan-Afghanistan

Team Members:

Vaqar Ahmed, Syed Shujaat Ahmed, Asif Javed, Faiz Paracha, Muhammad Adnan


It is important to undertake and evaluate the opportunities and challenges emerging from the evolving political economy of investment cooperation in the region along with the possibilities of strengthening investment cooperation between SAARC member countries in a manner that augments regional commitments like South Asia Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA) and Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO). Keeping these points in view there is hardly any research that looks at the macro, meso and micro level opportunities in intra-regional investment cooperation. It is even harder to find case studies of successful initiatives of intra-regional investment cooperation. It is even harder to find case studies of successful initiatives of intra-regional investments by Pakistan’s private sector.

Data in this regard indicates that greater investment flows between, for example, Bangladesh and Pakistan, culminated into higher flows of investment-led trade. The Pakistani manufacturers in Bangladesh were importing greater raw material from Pakistan as a result of expansion in their activity in Bangladesh. Finally, it is also important to document how a regional understanding of cross-border inter-dependencies can be created (including in the form of investment cooperation) which in turn will strengthen stakes for all neighbors in the region.

Program/Project Brief:

SDPI is currently conducting a study with brief understanding of the motivation behind, constraints of, and solution to intra-regional FDI and participation in global and regional value chains in the South Asian region, surveying both actual and potential investors in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Objective: SDPI is currently conducting a study with brief understanding of the motivation behind, constraints of, and solution to intra-regional FDI and participation in global and regional value chains in the South Asian region, surveying both actual investors and potential investors in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Work/activities accomplished:

  • Construction of data prior survey
  • Survey in Peshawar
  • Survey in Karachi
  • Survey in Afghanistan


India- Pakistan Trade: Moving Forward With Changing Dimesions And Emerging Scenarios


Duration: September 2012 to July 2013

Team Members: Dr. Vaqar Ahmad


Peace is supposed to be a dividend of enhanced economic cooperation, that’s why SDPI always advocated for trade normalization between India and Pakistan. The study aims to support the Track – I initiatives through

Developing B2B India-Pakistan Trade and marketing web portal that can facilitate trader community in both countries to come together online. Revisiting and updating sector-specific NTBs faced by India and Pakistan. Taking the advocacy of India-Pakistan trade to a new level through joint track-I and track–II discourse.


  • To create an information resource unit to facilitate Pakistan’s exports into India and at the same time encourage targeted Indian services into Pakistan, with the view of facilitating and guiding Pakistan’s Small Medium Enterprise (SME) and the young upcoming entrepreneurs
  • To develop alternative sectors for India-Pakistan trade with a view to promote niche, long-term product lines suitable for SMEs and young entrepreneurs
  • To revisit and update existing stock of knowledge on the tariff and non-tariff barriers particularly with respect to non-traditional items in India-Pakistan trade
  • To go beyond the standard estimation of changing producer margin in trade, and evaluate how consumers gain from easing of restrictions in India-Pakistan trade
  • To identify trade costs on account of some particular logistic-related NTBs (for select set of goods) and recommend (from the point of view of freight-forwarders) how to reduce them
  • To identify venues through which track – II efforts can complement track – I in strengthening trade ties between India and Pakistan


  • Identification of sectorial NTBs in India and Pakistan
  • Analysis of select trade specific commodities in both the countries and barriers in their cross border movement
  • Primary data collection
  • Report writing
  • Dissemination of research findings and policy recommendations


  • Government on both sides of the border should increase dialogue between commerce department and negotiations should take place sector by sector across border
  • The business community should also be involved in the process
  • In-depth research is needed to address the removal of sectorial Non-Tariff Barriers.
  • Close communication should be ensured between the products standard and certification authorities in India and Pakistan
  • The customs  officials on land routes should be allowed to interact more frequently
  • Greater track – II level efforts are required by the Civil Society Organizations on both sides of the border
  • The visa restrictions for business community should be eased

Afghanistan – Pakistan Trade: Emerging Trends and Challenges

Partner: PAJCCI

Duration: May 2013 to October 2013

Locale: Peshawar, Karachi, Islamabad, Rawalpindi

Team Members: Dr. Vaqar Ahmad


In order to assess the development and potential of trade between Afghanistan and Pakistan, a study has been initiated on Afghanistan-Pakistan Trade: Emerging Trends and Challenges. The study identified the key sectors available to Pakistani investors there, areas of possible joint ventures and highlighted the barriers regarding investment in Afghanistan.
In the course of study, it was found that there is limited information and data available on formal trade. To understand the status of trade both formal and informal discussions were held with traders and key government officials. Official statistics were provided by the Ministry of Commerce (MoC) and Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP) to address the issue relating to Pakistan-Afghanistan trade, both formally and informally, such as transport logistics and costs, payment mechanism and procedural difficulties.


  • Firm level survey
  • Discussion with traders and key informant interviews
  • Seminar on Afghanistan-Pakistan Trade

Potential Implications of SAFTA on Pakistan

Partner: CUTS International

Year: 2008

Team Members: Shakeel Ahmad, Muhammad Hamza Abbas


As elucidated in trade theory, liberalizing trade regimes is not a neutral process. It impacts the economic and social structures and also impacts the character structure of production systems, the people involved in such systems, and also the consumers of the produce. This country case study was carried in collaboration with CUTS India was primarily designed to investigate the implications of SAFTA for Pakistan.

SAARC’s Islamabad declaration in 2004 promised the establishment of a South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA) which came into force on July 1, 2006 six months later than the envisaged January 1, 2006. SAFTA is designed to be fully implemented by 2015. All the issues pertaining to tariff restrictions, rules of origin, safeguards, institutional structures, and dispute settlement are to be sorted out by various committees such as Committee of Experts which reports to the Ministerial Council every six months. The agreement primarily calls for e1imination of all quantitative restrictions and allows a sensitive list of products on which preference will not be accorded. This list is reviewed at four-year intervals with the aim of reducing the list and expanding the free trade coverage of the agreement.

Objectives of the paper were to come up with a trend analysis of Pakistan’s trade and investment links with other countries within the South Asia region, to depict the current status of SAFTA, present a review of the studies on potential complications of SAFTA on Pakistan. The study also tried to assess the role of Pakistan in making SAFTA a success especially in the context of multilateralism and emerging regionalism. The case study also tried to develop, research-based recommendations on making SAFTA an effective tool for trade led growth in Pakistan and South Asia. Main finding of the study was that Pakistan should develop itself to face more competition and build competitiveness as well as increase economic freedom.

Understanding Non-tariff barriers between India and Pakistan

Partner: CRRID

Duration:  August to October 2014

Locale:  Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Lahore, Faislabad, Gujaranwala,, Sialkot, Qasur & Rawalakot

Team Members: Dr. Shehryar Khan, Muhammad Sohaib, Muhammad Hamza Abbas


To understand Non-Tariff Baarriers (NTBs) between India and Pakistan, a trade perception survey conducted. For this survey interviews were conducted with exporters, importers, producers, freight forwarders, transporters, clearing house agents, government departments and academicians in Pakistan. The total sample of survey is 100, with stakeholders who are engaged in bilateral trade. The study also see the trade potentials for opening 182 items of India and 224 items of Pakistan concerning textile and textile products from sensitive lists, and also 78 textile items from negative list of Pakistan.  The WTO regulations regarding NTBs imposed in both the countries for these products will be mentioned in this study for policy suggestions.


The aim of the survey is to understand NTBs between India and Pakistan, and gathering information on potential trade for ‘textile and textile products’ and ‘agricultural and horticulture items.


  • Survey and meetings held in Islamabad/Rawalpindi, Lahore, Faisalabad, Muzafarabad/Rawalakot, and Sukkur/Karachi.


Lack of land trade routes, drug-trafficking, lack of banking facilities, informal trade via third world countries, dissimilar customs procedures, visa  restrictions, dismal labeling and packaging requirements, under/over invoicing of goods, lack of testing facilities, excessive checking of consignments, mishandling of goods, and infrastructure constraints at customs were the major NTBs between India and Pakistan.

India-Pakistan Trade Normalization


Duration: 2012


At SDPI, we have been advocating that peace is a dividend of enhanced economic cooperation. That’s why, the institute always advocated for trade normalization between India and Pakistan. Sponsored by DFID, the study aims to support the track-I initiatives through, a) developing B2B India-Pakistan Trade and Marketing web portal that can facilitate the traders’ community in both the countries to come together online; b) revisiting and updating sector-specific NTBs faced by India and Pakistan; and c) taking the advocacy of India-Pakistan trade to a new level through joint track-I and track-II discourse.


  • To create an information resource unit to facilitate Pakistan’s exports into India and at the same time encourage targeted Indian services into Pakistan, with the view of facilitating and guiding Pakistan’s SME and the young upcoming entrepreneurs.
  • To develop alternative sectors for India–Pakistan trade, with a view to promoting niche, long-term product lines suitable for SMEs and young entrepreneurs.
  • To revisit and update existing stock of knowledge on the tariff and non-tariff barriers particularly with respect to non-traditional items in India-Pakistan trade.
  • To go beyond the standard estimations of changing producer margins in trade and evaluate how consumers an gain from easing of restrictions in India-Pakistan trade.
  • To identify trade costs on account of some particular logistic-related non-tariff barriers (for select set of goods) and recommend (from the point of view of freight-forwarders) how to reduce them.
  • To identify venues through which Track-II efforts can compliment Track-I in strengthening trade ties between India and Pakistan.

Informal Flow of Merchandise from India: The Case of Pakistan

Partner: ICRIER

Duration: October 2012 to June 2013

Locales: Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad, Bahawalpur, Azad Kashmir

Team Members: Dr. Vaqar Ahmad, Muhammad Abdul Wahab, Asif Javed


The study aims to focus on updating and validating the current size of informal flow of goods from India to Pakistan along with identification of product-specific issues, nature of transit, and customs related matters. Key sectors in which informal flow from India is taking place include fruits and vegetables, textile, automobile parts, jewelry, cosmetics, medicines, tobacco, herbal products, spices and herbs, paper and paper products, and crockery. These goods are channeled into Pakistan via major routes like Dubai, Kabul, Kandahar, Chaman, Bander Abbas. The minor routes include several places in the adjoining border region


  • Validation of the current size of informal flow of goods from India into Pakistan
  • Identification of product-specific characteristics, nature of transit, customs issues, etc.


  • Survey in Karachi-Lahore-Bahawalpur
  • Key Informant Interviews
  • Research report
  • Working paper


  • Estimates show that the value of this informal flow from India to Pakistan in $4.2 Billion annually. Such flows have narrowed the demand-supply gap in various product categories besides creating livelihoods for several people in the poor regions.
  • The expansion in informal trade is hurting the manufacturing community. Pakistani producers end up competing with items that are not duty paid and thus found cheaper in the local market. There is also a loss of revenue to the government as these goods are not subject to usual customs procedure. In case of foods, herbs, and pharmaceutical items such merchandise is now checked for health and safety standards posing risk to human health


  • The analysis towards informal flows of merchandise should become a regular feature at government level. A joint working group of FBR, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Commerce and the central bank should have the capacity to monitor and address these flows in a manner that does not prohibit economic growth or hamper formal trade between countries
  • Trade dialogue between India and Pakistan should also feature the investment departments from both sides, and there should be introspection as to why investors are still reluctant to embrace opportunities in the neighborhood
  • A move towards trade expansion should take the form of increasing number of items allowed through Wagah-Attari border, opening up the remaining 9 land routes between India and Pakistan, allowing containerization via railways given that current trucking facility while necessary is unable to fulfil demand on both sides, enhanced presence of plant department officials (for agricultural and related items), and the signing of  pending trucking agreement between the two countries.