Pakistan Institute of Development Economics


The Presidential Address
Author: Asad Zaman

Asalam-o-Alikum! I would like to extend a warm welcome to all our guests. In particular, I would like to welcome and thank our honourable guest Foreign Minister Sartaj Aziz, Chief Economist, Dr Nadeem Javaid, and Dr Safdar Sohail, Head of our Centre of Excellence for research on CEPEC, and Dr Ejaz Ghani, the secretary PSDE for organising this event and all the invitees and respected and honourable scholars for coming to grace the occasion. Supposedly, there is an ancient Chinese curse that * “May you live in interesting times,”! Actually archival research shows that there is no such Chinese proverb but it is nonetheless widespread and famous. There is certainly a lot of truth to the idea that we are living in interesting times. Allah Subhana-wa-talah says in Holy Quran Quran 3:140 for it is by turns that We apportion unto men such days [of fortune and misfortune]. That is, victory and defeat are allocated to different nations by turns, in God’s scheme of things. This rise and fall of nations has been studied since Ibn-e-khaldoon laid the foundation for the field. Also the causes which lead nations to rise and the causes which lead them to fail and eventually decline/disappear have also been studied extensively by historians. We are all familiar with the proud proverb that “the sun never sets on the glory of the British Empire” and how the sun has set permanently on that empire. At the same time, the sun rose on the American empire since WWI. But, if you look at the symptoms of decay in civilisations, that you can find nearly all of them in the American Empire. So it seems that likely we are living in a transitional period. The regime of global domination is going to be change and Giovanni Arrighi a famous sociologist has predicted that next emerging hegemony will be Asian led by China and there are many historical trends to support his analysis. However, a deeper truth is that in transitional times leadership of the world is up for grabs. In chaotic times, jo baḌh kar ḳhud uThā le haath meñ miinā usī kā hai (Victory belongs to whoever extends his hands to grasp it) An essential pre-requisite for grasping leadership is the requisite knowledge. As Iqbal has said: Asad Zaman <[email protected]> is President of the Pakistan Society of Development Economists, and Vice-Chancellor of the Pakistan Institute of Development Economics, Islamabad.


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