Islamabad - The 3rd international social sciences conference entitled “State and Society of Pakistan: Challenges and Opportunities” was organized by the Higher Education Commission (HEC) in collaboration with University of Peshawar started at HEC secretariat here on Wednesday.

The objectives of the conference are involving social scientists from within and outside the country, are developing and promoting a multi-disciplinary approach to study the society in Pakistan, forging a common research agenda to meet contemporary social, economic, political, cultural and environmental challenges and identify solutions, examining latest methodological tools, conceptual paradigms and techniques to address the challenging research issues facing Pakistan.

Executive Director of HEC Dr Mansoor Akbar Kundi said that there are a number of social issues that need to be well researched so as to provide possible solutions to the policy makers. He appreciated the organizers for providing the academics and researchers of social sciences an opportunity to discuss lack of relevant research in different fields of social sciences and look for the way forward.  

In her welcome address, Dr Nilofer Shaikh, Chairperson HEC’s Committee on Social Sciences and Humanities underlined the need for reorganizing and restructuring the social sciences education and research in the Pakistani universities, particularly developing inter-disciplinary and multi-disciplinary research which she said was almost non-existent.

Dr Shaikh informed the audience how HEC’s committee on social sciences and humanities has been playing an instrumental role in urging the social scientists to focus on research relevant to socio-economic needs of the country. She said that social sciences and humanities research council would be established soon to further this cause.

Dr Adnan Sarwar, Dean of Social Sciences, University of Peshawar, said that within the broader theme, a set of sub-themes have been identified that are representative of diverse and wider scope of the social sciences.

They also demonstrate the need to see various social problems through inter-disciplinary approaches. These include theories and methods: emerging trends in social science; arts, humanities and sciences: blurring boundaries; developing institutional capacity: young social sciences faculty; socio-economic development and education in Pakistan; social transformation and conflict in the region; civil society and neo-liberal state; national integration and ethno-linguistic contestations; democratic governance and development; and security paradoxes, regional and global power politics.

 Dr Rasul Jan, Vice Chancellor, University of Peshawar was chief guest in the opening ceremony. It is pertinent to mention here that keeping in view the importance of social sciences in today’s global economy, the Higher Education Commission has dedicated a significant portion of resources to this faculty of knowledge. Besides other disciplines, social sciences’ is amongst the top priorities of HEC.

In this connection, numerous steps have been taken. Some of these steps include establishment of social science section (SSS), thematic research grant program (TRGP) for social sciences, arts and humanities, establishment of committee for development of social sciences and humanities in Pakistan (CDSSHP), establishment of social sciences research council (SSRC), recognition and funding of social sciences research journals. Besides, Pakistan has also gained membership in the Asian Social Sciences Association (ASSA). Pakistan will be hosting the association’s 1st meeting in October this year.