The School of Economics and Social Sciences (SESS), in collaboration with the Center for Business and Economic Research (CBER) at the IBA Karachi, hosted day three of the 2nd Annual International Conference titled, ‘Development: Discourses and Critiques’. The three-day conference was held from March 25-27, 2022 at the IBA Karachi, Main Campus.

Addressing the conference, Executive Director, IBA Karachi, Dr. S Akbar Zaidi welcomed the President of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, His Excellency, Dr. Arif Alvi and thanked him for coming to the IBA for the second time this month. Dr. Zaidi commended the conference participants for submitting around 350 papers on development and said that this was a beneficial step for Pakistan. He also said that to encourage diversity of thoughts, 150 students from across Pakistan were invited to participate and to share their papers on various themes. Dr. Zaidi also said that he was proud to say that women were adequately represented in this conference as per the essence of diversity. He appreciated the dynamic female participants and the women leaders at IBA for their contributions to the discourse and the community at large. Sessions on women empowerment and disability further added to the multifaceted theme of the conference.

Speaking at the concluding ceremony of the conference, Dr. Alvi said that effective communication plays a significant role in development as it helps us overcome the challenges faced in the development process. Appreciating Pakistani women, he said that they have immense talent and that 70 to 80 percent of them get admission into Pakistani medical colleges on merit. He also said that the art of communication is vital in empowering women and for placing them on the path of development. Dr. Alvi concluded his address with appreciating the conference for bringing together diverse discourses with an acknowledgement of its impact on future policy-making.

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This year’s conference theme invited works from a wide range of disciplines to critique, question, and reconsider the experiences of transnational, national, and sub-national actors with the development process.

The conference hosted presenters and participants from diverse backgrounds, including Skardu, Malakand, Sukkur, Gilgit, Quetta, and Islamabad from Pakistan, and multiple professors from esteemed universities from the USA.

The first panel discussion for the day, and the sixth one for this conference, was titled ‘Advocating for inclusive development: a discussion on accessibility in Pakistan,’ with the following four panelists: Haris Rauf Jaswal, Business Planning Manager, Consumer, Rural & SME Banking, Habib Bank; Jawaid Rais, President Disabled Welfare Association (DWA) Karachi; Fatima Jaffry, Provincial Coordinator National Forum of Women with Disabilities (NFWWD); and Muhammad Atif Sheikh, Executive Director, Special Talent Exchange Program Pakistan. The panelists emphasized the need for development to be inclusive for differently abled people. This inclusivity was suggested through making space for their active participation along with structural changes to accommodate them.

The last panel for the conference, titled, ‘Just Transition,’ which included the following four panelists: Samantha Smith, Country Director of the Just Transition Centre; Humayun Azad, CEO of Ray Analytics; Haroon Sharif, Consultant of UNDP Pakistan and former State Minister of Investments; and Sadaf Abid, International Consultant. This panel focused on the clean and green energy agenda with an emphasis towards business opportunities. The need for collaboration between all agents of society towards meeting the green agenda requirements was also underlined.

The last day of the conference also included 37 presentations by undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral students across a range of themes including employment and safety, state and development, literary and visual worlds, social psychology, and the work of some prominent economists.

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The three-day conference attracted the presence of 5 international speakers, 150 student presenters, 58 out stationed students, and more than 1000 attendees.