The following is the original version of the article published in the Sunday Edition of Pakistan Today, dated 17th August 2014
(For online version: http://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2014/08/16/comment/thy-brothers-welfare-millat-thinkers-forum/ )
(For Published Version, Page 12: http://issuu.com/abidoon/docs/dna_issue_37__1_?e=3820687/8966077 )
Thy Brothers’ Welfare: Millat Thinkers’ Forum
A culture of research and development to seek knowledge is the path to reclaiming lost glory
By: Omer Zaheer Meer
The author is a Director of the think-tank “Millat Thinkers’ Forum”. He is a leading economist, qualified accountant and anti-money laundering expert with international exposure who can be reached on Twitter and www.myMFB.com @OmerZaheerMeer or firstname.lastname@example.org
There was a time Muslim world ruled the planet. Humanity was lead and shown the path in civilization encompassing all areas of life be it economy, astronomy, medical, diplomacy, trade, management, military studies, foreign affairs, art, literature, e.t.c. This was when rest of the world particularly the west was experiencing dark ages. This golden era for humanity led by Muslims illuminated the dark worlds of those left behind.
However since the fall of Muslim Spain and the worst persecution of Spanish Inquisition by extremist Christian fanatic Queen Isabella and her husband Ferdinand, the Muslim world has plunged deeper and deeper into an abyss. There are various reasons of this downfall and historians have written detailed accounts covering various aspects. One key element at the helm of all the problems has been the disassociation with research and development. A nation whose beginning was with “Iqra” meaning “Read” ignored the importance of seeking knowledge. The order to seek knowledge from mothers’ lap to grave (signifying importance of knowledge) got lost in the disillusionment with the vitality of knowledge. The carriers of the legacy of personalities like Al-Beruni who was seeking knowledge even on his death-bed, left seeking knowledge at the bottom of its priority list. It is not surprising then that the nations who took over the legacy of research and development to seek knowledge had been bestowed with ruling the world.
One key aspect of this knowledge based culture of these developed nations has been the development of independent and high-standard think-tanks. These think tanks vary by ideological perspectives, sources of funding, topical emphasis and prospective consumers. In developed countries not only the Governments but corporate sector funds the think tanks too. Their importance is realized to such an extent that many countries allow tax-exemptions to these institutions in addition to other incentives to promote a culture of research and knowledge seeking.
Pakistan like the rest of the Muslim world however has lagged behind in this area. Unfortunately the culture of research has not been properly developed in Pakistan. The value of research and development is highly under-rated if realized at all in the circles making key decisions. As if that was not enough, the few think-tanks that do exist are mostly handicapped by their patronage’s interests, mostly foreign. Their limitations due to foreign funding or from sources with vested interests results in disappointing results and questionable reputes.
It was against this backdrop and keeping the importance of independent think-tanks to the development of a nation in view, I along-with some key people sharing the thought started working towards addressing the situation by taking some positive action. After deliberations, it was decided that a step in the right direction would be the formation of an independent think-tank aspiring to international standards.
A team lead by Mr. Zaheer Ahmad Meer (Chairman Professionals’ Social Network & Senior Advocate) and comprising of Mian Khalid Habib Elahi (Advocate Supreme Court & ex- Deputy Attorney General Pun), myself (Mr. Omer Meer, Chairman Liaison Committee LTBA, Qualified FCA & Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialist) and Mr. Wajih Ur Rehman (Agriculturalist and Social Worker) worked day and night to turn this dream of the first totally ingenious, independent and international-standard think-tank of entire Muslim world in Pakistan into a reality.
This led to the formation of the phenomenon called Millat Thinkers’ forum (MTF), the first totally ingenious, independent and international standard think-tank of not only Pakistan but entire Muslim world. The mission statement of Millat Thinkers’ forum (MTF) is Diagnose (the issues), Deliberate (on the different aspects and complexities) and Decode (to understand and recommend/develop a solution). These traits have been lacking and highly required not only in Pakistan but the entire Muslim world.
Millat Thinkers’ Forum‘s model involves quality research by a highly competent research team followed by monthly events where the best brains of the country are brought together to provide their inputs. The finalized reports then form the basis of MTF’s recommendations and sent to concerned departments, e.t.c. Its membership is focused on high quality induction to ensure accomplishment of the objective of meeting international standards. The members include top professionals, successful businessmen, scholars, media personalities, parliamentarians, social workers, academics, research scholars, students, e.t.c.
MTF has been working informally for some time and has even assisted some policy makers during this time. Information related to Millat Thinkers’ Forum including event information, pictures, videos, research and even finalized reports are now shared on Millat-Facebook (www.MyMFB.com), the largest social network ever by Muslims. However the growing demands and a desire to institutionalize led to the formal inauguration in Lahore.
I was honored to be tasked with organizing, managing and hosting the formal inaugural session which was graced by eminent personalities and top achievers from all walks of life who also became a part of the forum. The session consisted of three parts after Recitation of Holy Quran and “Naat”; the felicitation session, the keynote presentation on the topic of “ISIS/ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and Al-Sham/Levant): Implications for Pakistan & the way forward” followed by contributions from distinguished attendees. A sumptuous Iftar dinner was served keeping in view the auspicious occasion of Ramadan. Some of the eminent members to grace the inaugural event included but were not limited to:
- Mr. Asad Umar (Renowned Economist, Businessman & MNA),
- Gen (R) Ziauddin Butt (ex DG ISI & COAS),
- Mr. Absar Abdul Ali (Director, Hameed Nizami Press Institute),
- Sardar Asif Ahmad Ali (ex Foreign Minister, Pakistan),
- Justice (R) Sharif Hussain Bukhari,
- Mr. Hamid Khan (ex Chairman & Vice Chairman of Pak BC, ex V.Chairman of Pun BC, ex President SCBAP. ex President LHCBA),
- Mr. Arif Masud Mirza (President ACCA (UK) – Pakistan),
- Mr. Khurram Khosa (Advocate SCP & President PPP Lawyers’ Forum),
- Dr. Farzana Nazir (Doctor & MPA),
- Dr. Nousheen Hamid Miraj (Doctor & MPA),
- Mr. Mansoor Ur Rehman Afridi (Advocate SC & ex holder of several senior bar positions),
- Mrs. Mehnaz Rafih (Renowned Social worker, Intellectual & Political activist),
- Mrs. Ayesha Qazi (President Lahore Tax Bar Association),
- Mr. Hamid Zaman (Leading Industrialist),
- Sardar Arif Rasheed (ex Minister Irrigation, Agriculture, Forest & Fisheries),
- Mr. Walid Iqbal (Grandson of Allama Iqbal),
- Mr. Shahab Jafri (A. Editor Pakistan Today), e.t.c.
Many dignitaries including Mr. Hamid Khan, Mr. Asad Umar and Sardar Asif Ahmad Ali moved their engagements to attend the event. Honorable, Dr. A Q Khan who had prior family commitments sent his felicitation message for Millat Thinkers’ Forum in which he highly appreciated the endeavor and urged to continue the good work. Similarly Mr. Arif Nizami (renowned anchor, journalist and editor Pakistan Today) who was abroad sent his best wishes.
Patrons Mr. Zaheer Ahmad Meer and Mian Khalid Habib Elahi shared the importance of research and reasons for formation of the forum while I was honored to conduct the entire program along-with delivering the keynote presentation. General (R) Butt, Sardar Asif Ahmad Ali and Mr. Hamid Khan said the presentation was a highly expert-quality research work on the subject. Mr. Asad Umar pledged his support saying that this forum has the potential to become the best contribution to changing the fortunes of the nation. Mr. Arif Mirza, Mr. Absar Abdul Ali and Mrs. Ayesha Qazi said that MTF was the need of the hour. Walid Iqbal said that Diagnose, Deliberate & Decode is what this nation needs. Justice Bukhari, Sardar Arif and Mr. Hamid Zaman were confident that such endeavors can take us to the heights of glory. Mrs. Mehnaz Rafih said that only through such endeavors can we strive to achieve the Pakistan dreamt by Quaid and Iqbal. Mr. Khosa, Dr. Farzana and Dr. Nousheen all were impressed and hoped this will be the dawn of a new culture in Pakistan. Mr. Shahab Jafri presented his expert analysis on the situation and lauded the effort.
Overall the event was an astounding success and all the dignitaries not only pledged their support but appreciated the high quality of the research, attendees and management. The keynote presentation on ISIS was particularly praised. All in all, Pakistan once again took lead in showing the way forward to the Muslim world.