47th Anniversary of the Founding of ISSI
June 16, 2020
The Institute of Strategic Studies, Islamabad (ISSI) organized a webinar to celebrate the 47th Anniversary of its founding on June 16, 2020. The participants of the webinar included: Mr. Qasim Niaz, who had been Research Associate in the late 1970s, Mr. Changez Abbasi, Library Assistant from 1973-2019, as well as some of the former Director Generals and Chairmen BOG, including Ambassador Ashraf Jehangir Qazi, the 13th Director General from 2011-2013, and Ambassador Khalid Mahmood, the longest serving Chairman BOG since 2013 till date. The guests of honor on the occasion included former Foreign Ministers, Mr. Sartaj Aziz and Ambassador Inam ul Haq who served at ISSI as Chairmen BOG. Although invited, Mr. Ross Masood Hussain, the first Director General of ISSI and Ambassador Masood Khan could not join because of urgent commitment.
The webinar was moderated by Mr. Najam Rafique, Director Research, who said that the four pillars of ISSI that have formed the framework in its journey over the last 47 years comprised: support by the parent ministry, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; guidance by the executive heads including the Director Generals and Chairmen; perseverance and dedication of the research officers; and devotion of the administrative staff.
In his welcome remarks, Director General ISSI, Ambassador Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhry stated that we need to honor our predecessors who worked tirelessly to make this institute what it is today. He said that the present strategy is to synergize research work and dialogue on pertinent issues. He also shed light on the new developments taking place at ISSI including the establishment of four dedicated centers of excellence working on China, India, Middle East & Africa, and Arms Control and Disarmament.
Director Administration, Mr. Khurshid Anwar gave a detailed presentation showcasing the past and present of ISSI. He emphasised on the evolution through its initial years and highlighted the present activities of the Institute.
The guest of honor, Mr. Sartaj Aziz, stated that as evidenced in its work, ISSI has made very good progress in projecting Pakistan’s foreign policy. He attributed its success to three factors which has made for world class research: a steady budget, a good pool of workers and respect for autonomy. He recommended that ISSI should evaluate whether it is producing quality research, path breaking publications and landmark international conferences. If the Institute works on these three areas, then it will break new ground and be even more successful. ISSI, he said, is very capable of doing this.
The second guest of honor, Ambassador Inam ul Haq, while expressing his views talked about how over the years, ISSI has made an international standing for itself. He applauded how ISSI is making briefs for the Foreign Office and said that its research has been well-received. He congratulated the entire ISSI team for their achievements and wished the Institute success in all future endeavors.
Earlier, Mr. Ross Masood Hussain, in his message, congratulated the Institute on achieving milestones and emphasized on the importance of the existence of think tanks and how think tanks act as ancillary bodies to governments and soft power tools. He said that think tanks help states make spaces in the international arena.
Mr. Qasim Niaz, shared his experiences during his days at the ISSI and how he was a part of a small team of researchers who mainly worked on the then Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the Iran-Iraq war. He also stated that those were the days when there was no internet and the institute was also a transitioning platform for many researchers. He expressed his happiness at how the Institute has grown in scope and purpose.
In a video message, Mr. Changez Abbasi, who served ISSI for 46 years, praised all the successive Director Generals for their dedication and commitment in raising the stature of the institute to become one of the finest in Pakistan, with one of the best libraries in the country.
Ambassador Ashraf Jehangir Qazi shared his insights and suggested that while living in challenging times, we need to focus on newer issues like climate change, which pose a very grave challenge to Pakistan as well. In his comments, he also stated that we have entered an era of the new Cold War between China and the United States and there are countries which want to drive a wedge between China and Pakistan.
As the longest serving Chairman BOG, Ambassador Khalid Mahmood, talked about how his association with ISSI dates back to the early 90s when he was ambassador to Iran. He mentioned two significant improvements which he has personally seen over the last two years. The first is the establishment of four centers of excellence within ISSI. The second, is that the linkage with the parent organisation, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, has been further deepened which is a very positive development since it shows ISSI does not work in a void, but focuses on those issues that are of concern to the Pakistan government at large.
Ambassador Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry rounded up the discussion and thanked the speakers for their valuable inputs.