Next semester on Oct. 1 the Wesleyan International Relations Association (WIRA) will hold its first International Relations Conference, titled Deciphering Pakistan and US-Pak Relations.
According to WIRA Founder, Ali Chaudhry ’12, WIRA, has collaborated with the Wesleyan Pakistan Flood Relief Initiative and the South Asian Studies Certificate faculty to invite several prominent speakers to the conference. These will include Pakistani journalist, former revolutionary, and best-selling author, Ahmed Rashid, who will likely deliver the keynote address.
“We wanted to put forth a structure through which we have talks, conferences, and speakers every year so that students can learn about International Relations and can talk about it amongst themselves,” Chaudhry said. “We’re planning on having speakers and conferences and sessions where students can talk amongst themselves and with professors.”
The conference will include a screening of “Ramchand Pakistani”, an award-winning film about a family separated by a border disputes between India and Pakistan, followed by a question and answer session with the director, Mehreen Jabbar. Other confirmed speakers include retired American Foreign Service Officer and Political Counselor of the American Embassy in Pakistan, Ambassador Howard Schaffer and Public Policy Professor of the Harvard University Kennedy School, Assim Kawaja.
“This year we’re focusing on Pakistan because of the strategic importance of the region,” Chaudhry said. “We feel that it is an area that most people do not know enough about. Most people want to know more about it and most people make a lot of presumptions about it. We think it would be a nice platform for speakers on Pakistan to come here and talk about the various issues about it.”
According to Chaudhry, any future conferences will focus on different regions. Chaudhry estimated that the conference will cost somewhere between $15,000 and $20,000. All proceeds from the conference will go to the Pakistan Flood Relief Initiative.