Visit of Chinese Delegation, 29 July 2019

Welcome to the Islamabad Policy Institute!

I want to thank Mr Lijian Zhao and other friend/s from the Chinese Embassy for taking the time to visit us to hear about the work we are doing.

We began in 2016 as a small think tank, but one with fresh ideas. We aimed at relying on a combination of a strong and credible research team; timely research; effective and efficient communication strategies; and a strong engagement with policy-makers specially the parliament and the political parties for creating an impact at policy level.

Although Pakistan and especially Islamabad has a vibrant think tank sector, some of whom have made their mark at international level, but definitely there were shortcomings in terms of their linkages with policy makers, especially the Parliament, the political parties and their media outreach. Think tanks required to maintain their relevance in the 24/7 environment of today in which everybody is being bombarded by a constant flow of information and opinion. Feeling that we could fill that gap, we set up IPI.

Two years down the road, some wonderful images come to mind when I think of IPI. I think of a place where experts share their wisdom, and where policy makers come to hear academia and civil society’s perspective and articulate their position on critical issues. I think of IPI as a place with young minds eager to research the issues facing our society, our country and our neighbourhood.  Our colleague will give you a detailed briefing on how IPI is structured and how it works.

IPI values Pakistan’s relations with China and we are very pleased to see the “iron brothers” making rapid strides towards stronger and more mutually beneficial relationship. IPI, through its work, strives to maintain a positive image of China – Pakistan relationship. Please remain rest assured that this humble support would continue in coming years and decades.

As a friend and well-wisher, I feel like pointing out here mega transformative projects like CPEC have to be backed up by innovative ideas and thoughts to develop a strategy that would help our countries optimally benefit from the objectives of this cooperation.

A harsh reality is that notwithstanding carefully crafted image of the bilateral relationship and the prevailing good sentiments in the public, China’s soft power in Pakistan has been restricted because of number of factors primarily due to limited people to people contact and inadequate understanding of each other’s rich culture and way of life.

The Strategic content seems to dominate this relationship, which is defined by economic assistance, military cooperation, and technical aid. This helps in projecting China as a reliable strategic partner, but the younger generation is looking at this equation from a different angle.

Therefore, what we need now is more emphasis on developing cultural links and a better understanding of each other.

I must also underscore that while I have no doubts about this relationship weakening at any stage, but we have to put in more efforts to expand it.

Our colleague would give you a presentation on what we have done so far with regards to CPEC and what we plan to do in future.

IPI would like to request you to help us in establishing the much needed networking with Chinese research organizations. Secondly, please see if your mission could facilitate some of the work we do.

Once again thank you for joining us today!

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