Last Saturday, Penn Pakistan Society hosted the first annual Penn Pakistan Conference to open a dialogue about issues pertaining to Pakistan and its increasing global presence. Special guests included the former Pakistani Ambassador to the U.S. , Husain Haqqani.

Conference organizers hoped attendees would take away the following five things:

1. Students need to get involved with Pakistan

Pakistan is becoming a global player, but there are a lot of issues facing the country, and students need to work to find solutions.

2. There has been a recent shift in power in the country

In 2013, Pakistan had a presidential election, where Nawaz Sharif beat former cricket star Imran Khan, who was gaining popularity, especially amongst much of the youth. Previously, the Pakistan People’s Party controlled much of the country’s power after the 2007 assassination of Prime Ministerial candidate Benazir Bhutto.

3.  Students and government officials should collaborate on Pakistan more frequently

The club brought diplomats and government officials to the event to start a dialogue across disciplines and connect people to promote research on Pakistan. “We feel that enabling discussion and debate amongst academics, diplomats, government officials and students helps create the atmosphere for more focused research on Pakistan,” Penn Pakistan Society board member and College freshman Irtaza Ali said in an email.

4. Most have a skewed perception of Pakistan

The media focuses on the terrorism and radicalism that are rampant, which creates a distorted view of the country, Ali added. Instead, organizers hope to show that Pakistan has potential for economic development through the session on economic prospects.

5. The society hopes to encourage more dialogue

The conference also aimed to connect Pakistanis across the east coast to create a community and increase dialogue not only in the community but also with other people interested in global affairs and Pakistan. “We hope that this conference sets the precedent for more conferences on Pakistan in the future,” Ali said. “There is a strong need for platforms like this because they engender discussion that is constructive and solution oriented.”

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