Dr. Ishrat Husain, a Public Policy Fellow at The Wilson Center, who previously served as the Governor of the Central Bank of Pakistan and for twenty years at the World Bank, gave an upbeat presentation on the Pakistani economy. He noted its high performing stock market, as well as its potential as a large and attractive consumer market with a sizable middle class of 60 million people. Abdul Jabbar Memon, the Consul General of Pakistan at Los Angeles noted how Pakistanis have dealt with recent economic and political challenges with a degree of success, citing Pakistan’s successful recent completion of the IMF program.
Michael Kugelman, Deputy Director with the Woodrow Wilson Center’s Asia Program, highlighted Pakistan’s youthful population, “Pakistan’s median age is 22, with nearly 60% of the population 24 years old or younger.” The Founder/CEO of Invest2Innovate (i2i), Kalsoom Lakhani also highlighted the importance of recognizing young talent and supporting startup communities in growth markets. Lakhani’s organization i2i believes in encouraging innovators from developing countries and provides training programs and business support across the globe.
David J. Ranz, Acting Deputy Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan at the U.S. Department of State, spoke on the relationship between the United States government, the Pakistani-American community, and the Pakistani government. As Ranz stated, the United States has a historically unique relationship with Pakistan and its people, and strives to encourage dialogue and development. Pleased to have the discussion take place in Artesia, the city’s first Pakistani and current Mayor, Ali Sajjad Taj honored the American Pakistan Foundation with a certificate.
The forum also focused on how the Pakistani-American community can organize to be an effective voice in public discourse and actively participate in every facet of American life. The discussion was led by accomplished community leaders, Ahmed Ali, CEO of Geo-Etka; Dr. M. Razaq, President of eMax-2000; Waqar Khan; and Masood Malik, Interim Co-Executive Director and Board Member of the American Pakistan Foundation. The speakers highlighted how the community can go beyond its generous fundraising for causes in Pakistan to participate more actively in the civic and political life in the United States. A local organization, the Council of Pakistan American Affairs (COPAA), is setting an example by engaging with the community and facilitating connectivity for over 20 years.
The American Pakistan Foundation is honored to have facilitated a dialogue among exceptionally engaged Pakistani-Americans who recognize Pakistan’s economic potential, and have an interest and commitment in the country’s progress.