Focus turns to Pakistan in Week Five

Relatively young but a nuclear power, the Islamic Republic of Pakistan has a short history defined by political instability and tumultuous relationships with Afghanistan and India. With the world’s second-largest Muslim population, Pakistan occupies a strategic geopolitical position between Asia and the Middle East. Beginning on Monday, expert lecturers discuss Pakistan’s history, development into a semi-industrial nation and constant struggle of defining itself as a nation, created for Muslims, that isn’t a religious state.

Fareed Zakaria, host of CNN’s “Fareed Zakaria GPS,” editor-at-large at Time magazine and regular columnist for The Washington Post, opens the week with the keynote lecture on Monday.

On Tuesday, former Pakistani ambassador to the U.S. and U.K. Maleeha Lodhi gives the morning lecture.

She is currently the special adviser for international affairs to Pakistan’s largest media conglomerate, the Jang/Geo Group.

Husain Haqqani, Pakistan’s ambassador to the U.S. from 2008 through 2011, will speak Wednesday. A trusted adviser to three former Pakistani prime ministers, Haqqani is also a professor at Boston University and former director of its Center of International Relations.

Giving the lecture on Thursday is Shuja Nawaz, director of the South Asia Center at the Atlantic Council. He has worked with the United States Institute of Peace, the Center for Strategic and International Studies and other leading think tanks on projects dealing with Pakistan and the Middle East.

R. Nicholas Burns, former U.S. under secretary of state for political affairs, returns to Chautauqua to close Week Five’s morning lecture series. Burns is a 27-year veteran of the U.S. Foreign Service and professor of the practice of diplomacy and international politics at the Harvard Kennedy School.

The voices of this week’s Interfaith Lecture Series represent multiple generations and experiences as they lecture on the afternoon theme, “The People of Pakistan.”

The series begins with Ambassador Akbar Ahmed. Ahmed is currently the Ibn Khaldun chair of Islamic Studies at American University and the first distinguished chair of Middle East and Islamic Studies at the U.S. Naval Academy.

The Honorable Bushra Gohar gives the afternoon lecture Tuesday. Gohar is the central vice president of the Awami National Party (ANP) of Pakistan and was elected as a Member of Parliament on reserved seats for women in Pakistan’s 2008 national elections.

Qazi Azmat Isa, CEO of the Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund, an institution dedicated to issues of energy, infrastructure, disaster management, institutional development, health, education and disability, is the afternoon lecturer on Wednesday.

Thursday features Amin Hashwani. Hashwani belongs to an established business family in Pakistan with diversified interests in commodities, mining, textiles, real estate and others. He has been associated with numerous social initiatives nationally and internationally.

The Interfaith Lecture Series closes on Friday with contemporary and historical religion’s most prolific author, Karen Armstrong. Armstrong is a highly sought-after lecturer around the world, and is called upon by governments, universities, and church and secular orvganizations alike to educate about the world’s religions and to inform regarding their place in the modern world.