The Institute of Business Administration (IBA) Karachi held a book launching ceremony for a biography on Dr. Ishrat Husain, Former Advisor to the Prime Minister on Institutional Reforms and Austerity and Former Dean and Director IBA, at the IBA City Campus. Attendees included the IBA faculty, students and alumni, media, members from the academia, corporate sector and diplomatic corps.

‘Unravelling Gordian Knots – The Work and Worlds of Dr. Ishrat Husain’, is authored by Mr. Sibtain Naqvi and explores the life and times of Dr. Husain, from his earliest days in a refugee camp in newly made Pakistan to his impactful tenures in the civil services, World Bank, State Bank of Pakistan, academia and institutional reform. The book illustrates different dimensions of Dr. Husain’s prowess as an exceptional economist, reformist and educationist.

The event commenced with a welcome note by Ms. Malahat Awan, Director, Alumni Relations, Resource Mobilization and Corporate Relations, IBA. She shed light on the legacy that Dr. Husain has left behind and how he transformed the IBA. Esteemed speakers including, Dr. Husain; Dr. S Akbar Zaidi, Executive Director, IBA, Dr. Syed Noman ul Haq, Dean, UMT, Lahore and Mr. Sibtain Naqvi, book author, were invited to the stage.

Sharing her experience of working with Dr, Husain, Dr. Lalarukh Ejaz, Assistant Professor, School of Economics and Social Sciences, IBA, stated that Dr. Husain had reformed IBA in terms of introducing modern teaching pedagogies, creating a conducive environment for undertaking research, developing infrastructure and encouraging the female faculty to pursue PhDs. She said that Dr. Husain was a revolutionary leader who facilitated the faculty to enhance their abilities. Dr. Ejaz also said that she was proud of her student Mr. Naqvi for penning this phenomenal book.

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Dr. Saima Husain, Assistant Professor, School of Business Studies and Director QEC, IBA, commended Dr. Husain for bringing many scholarships and studying opportunities for the IBA fraternity. She fondly recalled Dr. Husain’s instrumental role in attaining her PhD. She opined that Dr. Husain was a visionary leader, who also had empathy for all.

Dr. Irum Saba, Associate Professor, School of Business Studies, IBA, commended Dr. Ishrat as a role model for many around the world and stated that he was a serial transformer of organizations.

Mr. Muneer Kamal, Former Chairman NBP, stated that the book narrates Dr. Husain’s zest for life. Appreciating the biography, he mentioned that the book encapsulates 80 years of Dr. Husain’s exceptional journey, from the pre-partition era to the current times. Mr. Kamal credited Dr. Husain with being a great manager of people and said that the State Bank of Pakistan is a complex organization and Dr. Husain managed it effectively as he can align the right person to the right role and that he transformed SBP from a relaxed organization to a vibrant one.

Mr. Naqvi stated that it was an honour to write a biography on Dr. Husain. Explaining the title of the book, ‘Unravelling Gordian Knots’, he narrated how Alexander the Great was confronted with a complex knot and how effectively he dealt with it. Similarly, Dr. Husain has been confronted with many such knots in his various assignments and he solves them seamlessly, be it policy reforms or transforming institutes. He credited Dr. Husain as a modest individual who speaks humbly about his phenomenal achievements. He said that he decided to pen this book because institutions are key to a country’s progress and Dr. Husain had transformed many institutions which makes the biography a blueprint for national development and policy makers. Furthermore, there is a dearth of role models and Dr. Husain with his contributions of over 60 years in diverse fields makes him a great role model and an example for young adults. Thirdly, he is inspiring figure and the author wanted to encapsulate Dr. Husain’s life lessons for the future generations.

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Dr. Zaidi opined that every institution that Dr. Husain has been associated with claims him as theirs due to the legacy that he leaves behind. Dr. Zaidi thanked Dr. Husain for transforming the IBA from an Institute to an interdisciplinary university with over 5000 students. He stated that the IBA fraternity is grateful for the physical infrastructure along with the world-class facilities and opportunities that Dr. Husain facilitated.

Commending the author, Dr. Noman ul Haq, thanked him for documenting Dr. Husain’s phenomenal achievements for generations to come. He appreciated Dr. Husain’s vigour to excel in diverse fields and stated that this book was a tribute to both Dr. Husain and Mr. Naqvi.

Dr. Husain stated that life is not a bed of roses and to be successful, one must face and navigate obstacles. Addressing his success at IBA, he credited his team for the success and stated that cooperation and teamwork is required for institutes to prosper. He also credited his wife for playing a supportive role in all his achievements. He commended Mr. Naqvi for his efforts in penning the complete story of his life and for his exhaustive research which including dozens of interviews and archival data. Furthermore, he advised the younger generation to have a life purpose and to contribute to the society. He emphasized that without equal educational and employment opportunities, social mobility cannot be attained. Dr. Husain encouraged the audience to think beyond their own progression and to enable the less privileged in achieving a better life and economic stability.

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An engaging Q&A session ensued between Dr. Husain and the audience.

The evening concluded with Dr. Zaidi presenting a memento to Dr. Husain.