On the 25th of September 2019, the Centre for Public Policy and Governance at Forman Christian College (A Chartered University) hosted a delegation of Sri Lankan civil services as part of their two-week educational journey to Pakistan.
The Sri Lankan delegation consists of a group of around 20 public officials that were invited by the Higher Education Commission of Pakistan (HEC) and facilitated by the National School of Public Policy (NSPP). The study group’s visit is part of an initiative launched in 2016 when former PM Nawaz Sharif visited Sri Lanka and set up a 2.28 billion PKR project in which around 50 Sri Lankan delegates are to visit Pakistan over the course of five years. In this first session 20 + delegates have already participated. The educational program has three different aspects to it; first civil servants’ training through various seminars, field visits and lectures. Second, around 1000 scholarships a year to Sri Lankan students for higher education in Pakistani universities; 16 students have currently been enrolled. Third, the establishment of a Centre for Buddhist Civilization; a joint collaboration between Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
The project is likely to be scaled up and there is a possibility the Pakistani students will be facilitated for study opportunities in Sri Lanka as well.
At CPPG, Dr. Saeed Shafqat, Founding Director and Saba Shahid, Research Fellow presented their study on CPEC in a presentation titled “China Pakistan Economic Corridor: Local Developments and Regional Imperatives.” An overview of the CPEC was provided including a discussion on the opportunities and challenges the project offers. Additionally, recommendations on how to improve the design and implementation of the CPEC and how to make it more people-centered, locally-owned and sustainable were also presented. The impact of India’s skepticism towards the CPEC was part of the presentation as were the developments following the Abrogation of Article 370 of the Indian Constitution and the difficulties it brings for the current leadership in terms of aligning Pakistan’s strategic interests with its development priorities.
The delegates were also taken on a tour of FCC University for a chance to understand the cultural and societal significance of a 156 year old educational institution that has contributed to Pakistan’s development for over a century.
The event offered a good example of how South-South exchanges between Pakistan and other regional countries can be productive both in terms of learning opportunities for partnering countries, but also to promote a sense