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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.

Religious Diversity.

The Relationship between Education and Religious Discrimination in Pakistan-Analysis of Curriculum and Pedagogy in Pakistani Schools


Duration: 2010-2011

Team Member:  Afsheen Naz, Fayyaz Yaseen, Muhammad Arif Naveed, Muhammad Salim Khwaja, Gulbaz Ali Khan, Dr Humaira Ishfaq, Muhammad Azhar


Education is widely acknowledged to have a central importance in creating pluralistic societies. This is particularly relevant to Pakistan which is ethnically and religiously diverse society consisting of more than 180 million people. It is the nature of education that can either promote social cohesion amongst diverse groups or create anxieties between them. Most important in this context are the curricula, textbooks and the educators. The messages contained in the textbooks combined with the attitudes of teachers and their methods to deliver these messages greatly influence the values of the taught towards the diversity in the society.


  • To find out to what extent religious minorities are represented in these school curricula
  • The degree to which biases against religious minorities result from how these minorities are portrayed in the educational system (through both curriculum and pedagogy)
  • The degree to which biases that have resulted from the educational systems have led to discriminatory or extremist actions against religious minorities in Pakistan¬—whether at the level of youth, the community, societal leadership, or extremist groups

SDPI, in collaboration with International Center for Religion and Diplomacy conducted an extensive study of curricula, textbooks, pedagogy and attitudes of students towards religious diversity, in both public schools and madrassas in Pakistan. SDPI researchers reviewed school textbooks for Grades 1-10 produced by the four provincial textbook boards (being taught during 2011) as well as selected madrassa textbooks. They also conducted in-depth interviews and focused group discussions with school teachers and students in four provinces, interviews of education experts and case studies of religious discrimination against non Muslim students.


The findings of this study are published in the report “Connecting the Dots: Education and Religious Discrimination in Pakistan” that was launched by US Commission on International Religious Freedoms. The report reveals that pejorative treatment of minority religions in the textbooks and the biased attitudes of teachers lead to the discriminatory attitudes of students towards religious diversity. Analysis of the data shows the negative portrayal of non Muslims in the textbooks as well as in the teachers’ attitudes towards and their teaching practices – both in public schools and madrassas. This study shows that the role of non Muslims in the formation, development and defense of Pakistan is altogether omitted from the educational discourse. The attitudes of public school teachers are often prejudiced towards the religious diversity and reflect bigotry. The study provides the evidences of prejudiced attitudes of teachers being passed on to the students hence transmitting the negative perceptions and stereotypes in the education system. The report presents the case studies of the discrimination faced by non Muslim students within the school environments, often by their peer groups and teachers, alongside a sheer vacuum of any institutional arrangement to address such discrimination. The study also suggests a number of reforms – for both public schools and madrassas – ranging from the production of new textbooks free from biases, training of the teachers to respect the religious diversity, to establish institutional mechanisms to address the incidents of discrimination against non Muslim students.

Promoting Freedom of Belief & Challenging Discrimination in Transition States

Partner: MRG

Duration: 2012 to 2015

Locale: Punjab, Sindh, KP, Balochistan

Team Members: mome Saleem, Dr Humaira Ishfaq, Afsheen Naz


The study aims to find the international framework and mechanisms that exist to protect religious freedom and evidence of Pakistan’s commitments to these framework and mechanisms. The study discusses the importance of awareness among minorities in Pakistan about international frameworks, their rights to religious freedom and their real time experience about freedom of religion. It further discusses the understanding of Pakistan’s majority community as well as the country’s obligations to protect religious freedom.

Primary data was collected from different areas of Pakistan. Key informants of the study include religious minorities, government officials, civil society organizations, political leaders, journalists and social activists.


  • Primary and secondary data collection and analysis
  • A report on the status of religious freedom in Pakistan is being drafted.
  • Training of Hazara community on religious freedom has been conducted. The contents of the training included domestic and international laws pertaining to religious freedom, peace building, advocacy and non-violent ways of conflict resolution.
  • Film on the subject of religious freedom
  • Online training course


  • The state has not been able to provide protection to religious minorities in Pakistan. The translation of international conventions and framework in the domestic law stays a dilemma.

A Directory of Religious Minorities in Pakistan

Partner: Ministry of Minority Affairs

Year: 2008


In order to strengthen pluralistic values in the society and to be able to celebrate diversity, SDPI and the Ministry of Minority Affairs joined hands in an effort to recognize and appreciate the existence and positive contributions of non-Muslim Pakistanis towards building and strengthening Pakistan. This study culminated into a directory of non-Muslims in Pakistan.

A unique compilation, first of its kind at the government level, it documented the historical roots of non Muslim Pakistanis. It covered fundamental principles and teachings of religions other than Islam in Pakistan and the positive role played by non-Muslim communities in the Pakistan movement. It highlighted demographic and social facts about non-Muslim Pakistanis. Most importantly, it signified their contributions in social, political and cultural development of today’s Pakistan. It acquired eminent non-Muslim personalities in Pakistan and their achievements in their respective fields of interest.

The study also recorded the important days and festivals celebrated by non-Muslims, and documented their places of worship and their historical importance.

Constitutional safeguards provided by the constitution of Pakistan to religious minorities and violation of those safeguards, manifestoes of different political parties on minority rights and the minority rights and the international laws were also recorded by this study.

Citizen Roundtable: Charting Pathways for Pluralism

Start date: 1st April 2018
End date: 30th May 2018

Location: Islamabad

Team: Mr. Saleem Khilji , Mr. Shakeel Ramay , Mr. Irfan Ahmad Chatha ,Ms. Maleeha Naveed ,Mr. Waqar Ahmed

Interfaith harmony and pluralism foster religious, cultural, and social integrity and help develop a diverse society wherein people of different beliefs and thoughts can live together in peace and enjoy their basic human rights. In other words, it is a state of action, which implies peaceful co-existence among the followers of different religions and beliefs with the clear-cut objective of zero tolerance against incitement of hate, extremism, and violence. Such a model proposes understanding of all religions and respecting everyone’s beliefs and differences. In a society that embraces pluralism, differences are not seen as threatening. They present opportunities to learn from one another, and enrich our lives and communities with new perspectives and ideas. In a pluralistic society, membership is determined by institutions and practices, not by one’s appearance, beliefs or place of birth. Every person is free to express the different identities that contribute to their uniqueness. Cooperation, not confrontation, is the way forward. 

Pakistan’s Context 

The very basis of Pakistan’s foundation lies in peaceful co-existence. The address of Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah on August 11, 1947 clearly manifests his commitment to the rights of minorities and promotion of interfaith harmony. 

Articles 20, 21, 25, 26, 27, 28, and 36 of the 1973 Constitution of Pakistan provide full protection and equal rights to all citizens, including minorities without any discrimination of colour, creed, cult, language or gender to freely profess and practice their religions and culture respectively.

Our National Action Plan (point 5, 9, 15 & 18) clearly indicates action against promoting intolerance, sectarianism and extremism. Rather it ensures end to religious extremism and protection of minorities. It says there will be no room left for extremism in any part of the country. 

Pakistan is a home to over 207 million people belonging to different religions and sects. With about 96 per cent Muslim majority, the country also has minorities belonging to Christians, Hindus, Parsis, Sikhs, Ahmadis, etc. 

According to the Census 2017, there are 96.28 per cent Muslims, 1.60 per cent Hindus, 1.59 per cent Christians, 0.22 per cent Ahmadis, 0.25 per cent  scheduled casts, and 0.07 per cent others in Pakistan. 

This diversity seeks to develop an interfaith harmony and religious pluralism in the society so that people from diverse range of beliefs might live in peace leading towards sustainable development as well as an inclusive society. 

The EU delegation to Pakistan decided to explore the possibilities to align Pakistan to international movements on FoRB that aim at commitments to strengthen interfaith harmony, such as the initiatives “Faith4Rights and the Beirut Declaration”. This high level initiative was personally launched and is strongly sponsored by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and by coordinated by the OHCHR. The line is to build shared space between Human Rights and religions. Other initiatives, such as the “Marrakesh Declaration on the rights of religious minorities living in Muslim majority countries” should also be a central part of this program. In line with this, the EU plans to facilitate two roundtable events in 2018 and 2019.

The first launching event will take place in Pakistan, Islamabad. A second smaller event will be organized Bologna in collaboration with the Fondazione per le Scienze Religiose and the “European Acadamey of Religion”. The second event will be part of another contractual agreement.

The overall objective of this contract is the provision of appropriate logistic support for the organization of the event in order to facilitate a multi stakeholder discussion on equal citizenship.
  • Identifying and inviting all the national and international stakeholders (30-35) for the roundtable. The stakeholders will be selected from diverse range of people, including faith leaders, academia, human rights activists, civil society, business leaders, religious scholars, parliamentarians and non-Muslim leaders from all over Pakistan.
  • EU to provide a list of international participants, comprising 10-12.
  • Making logistic arrangements for the participants.
  • Developing dissemination material in the light o Marrakesh and Beirut Declarations
  • Preparing a three-day agenda of debate for the roundtable, including opening plenary, closing plenary, and focus group discussions. For the focus group discussions, the participants will be divided into four groups to share their views which will be culminated on the last leg of the event.
  • Making arrangements for video recordings/live-streaming of the opening/closing plenary sessions.
  • Imparting training to SDPI researchers for the rapporteuring of the event to prepare a detailed report at the end.
  • Making venue arrangements for the Roundtable.
  • Engaging Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) in drafting the Joint Declaration or Communique.
  • Inviting media to share with them the objectives of the roundtable besides preparing the press release.
  • Taking down a Positon Paper/Policy Paper after the Roundtable.
  • Preparing a website portal of the Roundtable on the SDPI website to disseminate day-to-day information of the roundtable.
  • The citizens’ roundtable
  • Joint declaration
  • Formation of an advisory group
  • Position paper
Media Coverage

Project Status: Closed

Project Web Link:

Pluralistic Education Modules

Partner: Minority Rights Group, UK

Year: 2008


In order to establish just and progressive societies, it is paramount for nations to recognize the rights of their citizens irrespective of religious and ethnic background. In order to create an emancipated society, free of dogma, suppression and backward tendencies, it is important to practice the pluralistic traditions of South Asia. Living in multi-cultural society, it is important to respect diversity, especially religious diversity. Curriculum and textbooks play an important role in shaping beliefs and attitudes of students towards minority groups. In order to achieve the objective of mutual respect, students from elementary school level should be familiar with myths and stories and great personalities and saints associated with other religions. They should learn to value religious diversity and to celebrate it without losing their own individuality. SDPI in previous years has indicated through empirical research, shortcomings of existing curriculum in appreciating social and religious diversity. SDPI in partnership with Minority Rights Group UK started an initiative that would focus on preparation of curriculum modules. These modules would be units of material that are inclusive and representative of religious minorities. These modules would be taught to students belonging to all religion. An attempt would be made through a panel of eminent educationists, networking partners, and media to have these modules introduced at government and non-government educational institute.

Alternative Text Books for Non Muslims Students and capacity building of Teachers

Partner: MRG

Duration: 2008-10

Team Members: Ahsan Ahmed

SDPI does not stop merely by pointing out the discriminatory educational material in curriculum, but it also proposes alternative text books. In one such effort, our researchers in partnership with UK based Minority Rights Group (MRG) have developed alternative textbooks from class one to ten. The message of tolerance & peace between different religious groups has been disseminated through these text books.

In 2007, a study commissioned by the Minority Rights Group International reviewed the curricula of public and private educational institutions with reference to the representation of minorities in the curricula. SDPI was involved in the second phase of the review, in which ten teaching modules were developed based on the recommendations of the study. These were meant to provide models of education material free from prejudice and anti-minority sentiments. The sources used for the material included a variety of religious scriptures; material on the lives and influence of Sufis, bhagats and yogis; traditional folktales; progressive literary works like those of Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Ibne Insha, Prem Chand and Iqbal; and older text books that reflected periods of religious harmony in the 20th century.

The developed modules have been shared with various minority schools for final printing and review. The project has also enlisted the support of the Ministries of Education and Minorities. Some private institutions in Islamabad and Lahore have agreed to adopt selected material, while some community schools in Sindh have also expressed an interest in the material. Efforts for improvement and greater dissemination are still ongoing. Finally, SDPI Senior Research Associate Mr. Ahmad Salim has been given the task of incorporating some of the material into textbooks for grades 3, 6, 9 and 11. The National Book Foundation in Islamabad has agreed to adopt the new text for book publishing.

As part of this project, a minority schools teachers’ workshops series has been planned to develop an orientation of teachers towards the adoption of these text books. The SDPI in collaboration with SHADOW organized this workshop in Samundri, Faisalabad in September 2010. The workshop was designed to create awareness about the new textbooks. Urdu modules were designed to enhance an understanding of the aims and goals of the group. An assessment of the participants was made and feedback from the participants was also taken at the end of the workshop for further improvement. A second series of workshops is planned for schools in Lahore & Islamabad.