Rethinking Pakistan's Political Economy

March 11, 2020
6:00 pm-7:30 pm | London

Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations

As social change and structural transformation has taken place in Pakistan's economy and society, we see the emergence of new social groups and vested interests vying to establish dominance over social and political processes in Pakistan. A middle class which has grown bigger and more influential, has asserted political power through new political alliances. The economies of rural towns and urban bazars have been transformed as has local politics as a consequence. Far greater mobility within and around cities, has allowed Pakistanis to migrate and find work in different cities. Women have started demanding education and social and political rights against gender discrimination, and have asserted collective power in public spaces. Ethnic movements have also resurfaced and have become bearers of new, albeit peaceful, forms of resistance. All this also at a time when neoliberal economic policies of the government are creating new dispossessed citizens who are having to face severe economic meltdown.

What do these social, economic and political trends suggest for Pakistan's political economy at this juncture and in the near-term? To discuss these and related themes, we will have a panel discussion with S Akbar Zaidi, Aasim Sajjad Akhtar and Alia Amirali, moderated by Sana Alimia. 


Aasim Sajjad Akhtaris Associate Professor of Political Economy at the National Institute of Pakistan Studies, Quaid-i-Azam University. He was previously at the Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS). ASA works on diverse subjects such as state theory, informality & class formation, colonial history, and social movements. He has published widely in journals such as Third World Quarterly, Journal of Contemporary Asia, Journal of Peasant Studies and Critical Asian Studies. He is also the author of three books, most recently The Politics of Common Sense: State, Society and Culture in Pakistan (Cambridge, 2018). ASA also writes a syndicated column for Pakistan's newspaper-of-record, DAWN. ASA obtained his doctorate in political sociology from the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London; an MA degree in Economics from Yale University and a BA degree in Economics from Northwestern University. He is contributing editor for the New York-based journal Socialism & Democracy, and Honorary Fellow at the Institute of South Asian Studies, National University of Singapore. Alongside his academic pursuits, ASA has also been closely affiliated with political and social movements in Pakistan for more than two decades. He is a founding president of the Awami Workers Party (AWP).

Sanaa Alimia is a political scientist specialising in migration in modern South Asia. She holds a PhD from SOAS, London and an MSc from the LSE. Prior to joining AKU-ISMC in September 2019, Dr Alimia was a Research Fellow at the Leibniz Zentrum Moderner Orient, Berlin (2016-2019) and a recipient of the COFUND Dahlem Research Award, based at the Freie Universität and Leibniz Zentrum Moderner Orient, Berlin (2014-2016). She has also been a Visiting Assistant Professor at the Department of Political Science, University of Peshawar (2013-2016) and a Senior Teaching Fellow at the Department of Politics and International Studies, SOAS (2011-2014). Dr Alimia is the author of a forthcoming manuscript, “Afghan Refugees in Pakistan 1978-2018,” University of Pennsylvania Press. She is also the author of several journal articles, working papers, and policy papers. She also makes regular contributions to print, online, and radio media and participates actively in conferences, workshops, and local community events. Her current research interests focus on surveillance, governance, and population control in the modern Muslim world. 

Alia Amirali is currently pursuing a PhD in Gender Studies at the London School of Economics. She is also a political organizer who has worked closely with various grassroots movements in Pakistan. She played an active role in the rebuilding of the progressive National Students Federation (NSF), and is now a member of the left-wing Awami Workers Party (AWP) in Pakistan. She is also a researcher of the Baloch National Movement in Pakistan, and is affiliated with the Center of Excellence in Gender Studies at Quaid-e-Azam University, Islamabad.

Professor Dr. S Akbar Zaidi is a Political Economist who has had nearly four decades of teaching and research experience in Pakistan and abroad. He has been a Professor at Columbia University, New York, since 2010, where he teaches one semester a year, and has a joint position at SIPA (the School of International and Public Affairs), and at MESAAS (the Department of Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies). He is also an Adjunct Professor at the IBA, Karachi, teaching one semester each year since 2011. He is a political economist with interests in political economy, development, the social sciences more generally, and increasingly, History.  He has taught at Karachi University and at Johns Hopkins and has written over 80 academic articles in international journals and as chapters in books, as well as numerous books and monographs. Amongst his books, are: Military, Civil Society and Democratization in Pakistan (2011), The New Development Paradigm: Papers on Institutions, NGOs, Gender and Local Government (1999), and Pakistan’s Economic and Social Development: The Domestic, Regional and Global Context (2004). His recent books include Issues in Pakistan’s Economy: A Political Economy Perspective published by Oxford University Press in 2015, and a co-edited volume entitled New Perspectives on Pakistan's Political Economy: State, Class and Social Change, published by Cambridge University Press in April 2019.

The event is free but booking is essential - reserve your ticket here

Image credit:

Sanaa Alimia


Atrium Conference Room
Aga Khan Centre
10 Handyside Street