Jinnah Institute seeks to promote independent policy research and public advocacy in Pakistan that advance the causes of:
- Democratic institution building and strengthening state capacity for delivery on policy goals;
- National and human security discourse with an emphasis on regional peace;
- Entitlement to fundamental rights;
- Accountability of public bodies and government;
- Building public equity in a plural and inclusive national identity.
To meet these objectives, Jinnah Institute engages with policy-makers, government, media, civil society, state institutions and academia. The Institute actively seeks to articulate independent national security strategies for Pakistan which incorporate the country’s strategic imperatives while providing room for constructive engagement with the international community, as well as policy and opinion makers.
By serving as a bridge between academia and policy-making, and focusing on capacity building for the state and other policy creating institutions, the Institute creates an enabling context and public space for ideas and resources to come together through mediums such as policy briefs, reports, lectures, seminars, roundtables and caucuses.
Within this framework, the two overarching program areas under which the Institute undertakes a variety of projects and interventions are:
a. Open Democracy Initiative
b. Strategic Security Initiative
Under these operational streams, Jinnah Institute seeks to accomplish a series of different but complementary objectives that work towards achieving the Institute’s overarching goal of establishing a more democratic, transparent and inclusive environment for policymaking and a more tolerant, open and peaceful society for the harmonious coexistence of diverse cultural, religious and ethnic groups in Pakistan.
Key project areas that the Institute has been engaged in under the two Institute initiatives-Open Democracy and Strategic Security – include a stakeholder consultation, a conference on floods in Pakistan, two Indo-Pak Track II initiatives, a Pak-Afghan Track II dialogue, a report and follow up on the status of religious minorities, the building of youth capacity through a policy initiative called “Engaging Generation Next,” as well as a publication on a yearlong study on the rise of extremism in Pakistan. What follows is an overview of these projects.
OPEN DEMOCRACY INITIATIVE
Pakistan’s interrupted encounters with democracy, and diminished public input in governance have arrested the growth of institutions and rendered public services either too fragile or too disempowered to respond to a growing population of citizens alienated from the state. The twin menaces of terrorism and extremism have further exacerbated the crisis in the country.
The goal of the Open Democracy Initiative is to bridge the gap between citizens and state and to formulate and articulate policy responses based on inclusive research. By pursuing these goals, Jinnah Institute is creating awareness, expanding the knowledge base and facilitating the implementation of informed recommendations for researchers and policy-makers.
This program focuses on strengthening democratic practices such as transparency in public contracts, the right to religious freedom, social entitlements, right to information, and the provision of social justice. In addition, this initiative is an awareness and capacity building effort for better governance in Pakistan’s public institutions. It advocates the reinstatement of state writ in areas where parallel and/or colonial structures restrict access to fundamental rights, such as universal suffrage and equal opportunities for all.
Areas of Focus
- Human rights and social justice, with a focus on women and minorities;
- Civic engagement in strengthening democratic and social structures and constitutional entitlements;
- Investing in the media through capacity building exercises and consultations to enhance its role as a key shaper of popular narratives and a constructive partner in democratic governance;
- Integrating youth cohorts in mainstream identity discourse by exploring multiple realities and strengthening plural values;
- Encouraging specific mediums of secular expression, including art and culture in order to build bridges between art and citizenship.
STRATEGIC SECURITY INITIATIVE
Current geostrategic realities have not only magnified Pakistan’s global relevance, but also repeatedly headlined the onerous challenges it faces today. A porous border with Afghanistan, the repercussions of the proxy jihad during the 1980s, the militarization of foreign policy, the exaggerated perception of an enhanced threat from India, the ongoing war on terrorism, and the radicalization of society are a few of the core issues that require immediate attention in order to achieve peace and stability in Pakistan.
In democracies, policy reviews are critical for building common ground. Without sustained policy dialogues on divisive issues, there is little room for consensus. Key national goals such as countering terrorism require supportive pluralities on crucial policy issues if the national security agenda is to be addressed coherently. Given the sustained threat from terrorists, it is vital for Pakistan’s national security environment to engage in robust dialogue, develop policy frameworks, and build civil-military equilibrium. In addition, inter-agency coordination between parliamentary, governmental and other institutions is needed in order to bridge critical gaps between policy-making and implementation.
The Strategic Security Initiative articulates independent national security strategies for Pakistan that incorporate the country’s national policy imperatives, while carving out critical space for voices from civil society, media and academia. The Initiative also encourages constructive engagement with the international community as well as local policy and opinion makers in an effort to seek broad strategic convergences in multilateral and bilateral forums.
Areas of Focus
Broadly speaking, the Strategic Security Initiative seeks to democratize the formulation of national security policy and build civil-military bridges in order to encourage a more open and inclusive security paradigm, with a particular focus on developing higher stakes in reversing the tide of religious extremism and violence. The Strategic Security Initiative aims to do this through:
- Developing platforms for sustained dialogue between various non-governmental interlocutors from India and Pakistan on issues of regional peace and cooperation;
- Engaging with a variety of local partners in Afghanistan through informed dialogue to identify common policy goals and develop a series of convergences for peace and democratic governance in the region;
- Engendering support in the government, civil society, and the media for the nonviolence and demilitarization of foreign policy;
- Establishing networks of policy-makers, media practitioners and civil society activists who can promote and implement the security policy paradigms developed by the Institute and its local and regional partners.