Hashwani uses business acumen to create social change in Pakistan



Jessica White | Staff Writer

In today’s economic climate, business executives are associated more often with hubris than humility.  But Amin Hashwani, who belongs to an established business family in Pakistan, never thought twice about using his leverage to create compassionate social change.

Hashwani is part of a Muslim community, so it is part of his faith practice to help others and treat them with kindness, he said.

“From childhood, I’ve seen compassion in my family and all around me, so for me, it was just doing what was going around — except I took it to a different level,” he said. “The business skills are very helpful in that.”

Hashwani has founded a number of social initiatives in Pakistan, including AIESEC, Pakistan. AIESEC is the world’s largest student organization that tries to inspire young people to positively impact the societies in which they live. He also founded the Network of Organisations Working for People with Disability, Pakistan (NOWPDP), a national network of more than 200 member organizations that work for people with disabilities.

Hashwani will discuss life in Pakistan — especially Pakistani perspectives of the American conflict — at 2 p.m. Thursday in the Hall of Philosophy. His lecture is titled “The Pakistan that We Don’t Read About.”

“I want to give views that you would not see on Fox or CNN,” he said. “I’d like to talk from a personal perspective, because here in America, we hear one point of view, but people in Pakistan view things with a very different point of view.”

There is no right or wrong perspective, he said, and it is fine if people disagree. But to move forward, it is important for people to understand all angles of the U.S.-Pakistan relationship.

One aspect of the relationship is as simple as its timeline. For example, Pakistan has been on many Americans’ radars since Sept. 11, but the relationship between the countries dates back several decades.

“In Pakistan, people remember America from 50 years ago,” Hashwani said. “That has some good aspects and some negatives as well.”

Hashwani also promotes understanding in Pakistan. He is the founding chairman of the Iqbal International Institute of Research, Education and Dialogue (IIRED), which encourages tolerant teachings of Islam through the help of a variety of scholars. He is also the founding president of the Charter for Compassion Society in Pakistan. Karen Armstrong, who will speak at tomorrow’s 2 p.m. Interfaith Lecture, leads the global Charter for Compassion.

“If you want to solve problems, you cannot do it alone by just one point of view,” Hashwani said. “I don’t want to come across as someone who’s trying to say who’s right or who’s wrong — sometimes nobody is — but it is important to fully comprehend the situation in order to better address these problems.”