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January 24, 2015

Think tanks ‘must for socio-economic development’


January 24, 2015

Islamabad: Shafqat Kakakhel, former deputy executive director of the United Nations Environment Programme, has said that think tanks play a prime role in the promotion of socio-economic development in a country besides serving as a platform for various stakeholders, guarding the larger interest of public on specific issues and producing knowledge for decision-makers.
He was speaking at a Roundtable Consultative Meeting organised by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute here on Thursday evening. The roundtable coincided with the launch of ‘2014 Global Go-to Think Tank Index’ by the University of Pennsylvania, US.
Kakakhel said that the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have over 160 targets that need to be addressed but only independent and credible think tanks can present best policy options.
The SDPI is a part of the global launch along with over 60 think tanks, inter-governmental organisations and media outlets in over 55 cities around the world.
SDPI Executive Director Dr Abid Suleri said that globally, 6,681 think tanks were ranked. “Among South Asian TTs, 192 were from India and 19 from Pakistan. Only two TTs made it to the top 20. Pakistan Institute of International Affairs stood 16th while SDPI stood 19th. On the criteria of trans-disciplinary, SDPI was the only TT from Pakistan that was nominated and stood 38th. He said that SDPI was ranked 55th Think Tank to be watched in future for policy reviews and other issues. In terms of quality of publication and its policy influence among South Asian countries, he said that only SDPI’s study titled “Food Security in Pakistan: Policy Options” authored by Shakeel Ramay was ranked and stood 30th globally.
Dr Aliya H Khan, dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences, Quaid-i-Azam University, said that SDPI is one of those institutes that creates link between universities and the TTs. Moreover, it is the only TT among the 19 sampled from Pakistan which contributes to developing the

skills of young researchers. This was the role that even universities in Pakistan were unable to realise, she said emphasising the need for improving the linkages between TTs and universities for the larger interest of policy-making and advice. She proposed launching of Parliament Research Service.
Marvi Sirmed of UNDP said that parliamentarians lack writing skills, therefore, legal legislative drafting quality is very poor. On the other hand, she said students of political science have the little knowledge about the parliamentary history. A collaboration between parliamentarians and academic institutes can better evolve a mechanism in policy research, she said adding that we need a dedicated human research service like PIPS and SDPI may fill this gap.

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