The importance of the United States’ relationship with Pakistan cannot be overstated. Pakistan is the sixth most populous country in the world, and the U.S. is the fourth. In a generation, Pakistan will be the most populous Muslim majority country in the world. It is a democracy that also has nuclear capability. Yet, Pakistan is a fragile state and its relationship to the U.S. deteriorates daily.
Recent headlines underscore deep differences and distrust between our two governments. Media in both societies often fan the fires of animus, despite the fact that literally hundreds of millions of people in both countries hold deeply shared values and interests. The positive feelings and sense of connection that Pakistanis and Americans felt thirty years ago have all but disappeared.
Convergence is the central driver of the U.S.-Pakistan Leaders Forum, which we conduct in partnership with the Consensus Building Institute and the Institute for Resource and Security Studies. Building on the prior successful U.S.-Muslim Engagement Project, the U.S.-Pakistan Leaders Forum provides a visible demonstration of mutually beneficial, people-to-people partnerships between the U.S. and Pakistan at a time when the bilateral governmental relationship is dangerously low and public perception of the other is fraught with distrust and misconceptions.
Over three years and six sector-specific meetings, the U.S.-Pakistan Leaders Forum will bring together diverse civil society and private sector leaders to create long-term partnerships in areas where there is both need and opportunity for cooperation. The first Forum meeting was held in Lahore, Pakistan in February 2011 and focused on education and agriculture. It has generated specific projects linking schools and universities in both countries and spawning cooperation in agricultural research and development.
BREAKING NEWS: The second meeting of the U.S.-Pakistan Leaders Forum was held June 17-19, 2012. Over 50 American and Pakistani leaders from the fields of media, journalism, the arts, and entertainment came together for a retreat of honest and rich dialogue. Discussion on areas for partnership and collaboration generated dozens of concrete ideas. There has already been significant follow up among the individuals and organizations that attended. See what participants had to say about the experience here.
For more information about this project, please contact Aakif Ahmad at email@example.com