Recent Events

On Monday, January 30, 2017, the South Asia Center’s Future of Iran Initiative co-hosted a half-day symposium with The Iran Project. The event focused on the record of the Iran nuclear deal and its likely fate under the Trump administration. The intent was to help forge a bipartisan path forward that will preserve the non-proliferation gains of the accord while finding a resolution for other Iranian activities that are of concern and contributing to conflict resolution.
On Wednesday, January 25, the South Asia Center’s Future of Iran Initiative co-hosted a panel discussion entitled Iranian Attitudes on Iran-US Relations in the Trump Era with the University of Maryland’s Center for International and Security Studies, featuring Dr. Ebrahim Mohseni, Research Scholar, Center for International and Security Studies, University of Maryland, Ms. Sanam Naraghi-Anderlini, Co-Founder and Executive Director, International Civil Society Action Network, and Dr. Paul Pillar, Nonresident Senior Fellow, Center for Security Studies, Georgetown University. Acting Director of the Future of Iran Initiative, Barbara Slavin welcomed attendees, introduced the panelists, and moderated the discussion.
On Tuesday, November 29, 2016, South Asia Center’s Future of Iran Initiative, Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East, and the Global Energy Center hosted a panel discussion on what to do about Russia’s rising profile in the Middle East. Panelist included Anna Borshchevskaya, Ira Weiner Fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Thomas Cunningham, Deputy Director of Atlantic Council’s Global Energy Center, Alireza Nader, Senior International Policy Analyst at RAND, and Aaron Stein, Senior Fellow at Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East. The event was moderated by Barbara Slavin, the Acting Director of South Asia Center’s Future of Iran Initiative. Panelists discussed Russia’s regional and international policy challenges including the Russian intervention in the Syrian civil war, expanded military cooperation between Russia and Iran, and Russia’s near future energy strategy, as well as policy options for President-Elect Trump towards Russia.
On November 15th, the South Asia Center held a conversation on Pakistan’s National Action Plan (NAP), a document that specifies the government’s recommendations for counter-terrorism efforts. Mr. Shuja Nawaz, a Distinguished Fellow at the Atlantic Council, discussed his recent publication, “Countering Militancy and Terrorism in Pakistan: The Civil-Military Nexus,” which analyzes the relationship between Pakistan’s civil society and military in the context of the Apex Committees at the provincial level. Joining Mr. Shuja Nawaz on the panel were Dr. Moeed Yusuf, Associate Vice President, United States Institute of Peace and Dr. Thomas F. Lynch III, Distinguished Research Fellow, National Defense University. The panelists concurred that while the NAP is a commendable foundational document, it should pair down and focus on a core set of actionable objectives. The panelists also cautioned that limited resources may prevent the successful execution of all components of the NAP.

On November 9th, the South Asia Center hosted a discussion with the 2016 Emerging Leaders of Pakistan. The Emerging Leaders of Pakistan Fellowship seeks to empower the next generation of Pakistan’s leaders by providing fellows with resources to strengthen their engagement with civil society. The featured fellows --Ayub Ayubi, Haris Badar, Shahraiz Malik, and Wajeeha Riaz-- discussed methods for improving civil society in Pakistan and the practicable skills they developed through the fellowship. This program is funded by the US Embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan. More information about the 2016 cohort and fellowship program can be found here.
On Friday, November 4, 2016, the South Asia Center hosted Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s Chief Adviser Dr. M Humayon Qayoumi for a discussion on administering reform in Afghanistan. Following the introductory remarks from Dr. Bharath Gopalaswamy, the Director of the South Asia Center, Dr. Frederick Starr, the Founding Chairman of the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute, moderated a conversation with Dr. Qayoumi on the practical steps Afghanistan has made towards instituting vocational training for Afghan youth to tackle unemployment, developing major cities beside Kabul to diversify Afghanistan’s economy, and reversing the brain drain in the country by attracting Afghans with economic opportunity. 

On Thursday, October 20, 2016, the South Asia Center’s Future of Iran Initiative hosted a panel discussion moderated by the Future of Iran Initiative's Acting Director Barbara Slavin featuring Mehdi Ghadyanloo, Iranian artist and muralist, and David Furchgott, Founder, President, and Chief Executive Officer of International Arts and Artists, to discuss Iran’s public art scene. The panelists discussed the effects of sanctions on Iranian artists as well as the problems faced by Iranian artists who seek entry into international art circles and collaboration with other artists. Despite these obstacles, the panelists agreed, Iran’s growing art scene presents enormous potential for non-political exchanges between Iran and the international community.
On Wednesday, October 19, the Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security’s Middle East Peace and Security Initiative released Atlantic Council distinguished fellow Ellen Laipson’s A New Strategy for US-Iran Relations in Transition, the sixth installment in the Atlantic Council Strategy Paper series. The report advocates for a balanced approach towards American relations with Iran that builds incrementally on the progress made by the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). The discussion was hosted by New York Times National Security Correspondent David Sanger, and included Michael Connell, director of the Iran Studies Program at the Center for Naval Analyses (CNA), and Atlantic Council board director Amir Handjani. The panel discussed recent developments between Iran, the United States, and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member states, as well as potential strategies that could bring about a safer and more peaceful Gulf region.
On October 5, 2016 the South Asia Center hosted Senator Mushahid Hussain Syed from the Senate of Pakistan and Dr. Shezra Mansab Khan, a member of the National Assembly of Pakistan, for a discussion on Pakistan’s perspective on the current political situation surrounding Kashmir. This conversation was moderated by the Director of the South Asia Center, Dr. Bharath Gopalaswamy. This visit occurs against the backdrop of the recent upsurge of violence in Jammu & Kashmir.

On September 21, 2016 the South Asia Center hosted Dr. Sannia Abdullah, a visiting scholar at Sandia National Labs, for a conversation on Pakistan’s full spectrum deterrence strategy. The discussion was moderated by Distinguished Fellow Mr. Shuja Nawaz.

Dr. Abdullah addressed the overarching security calculus upon which Pakistan’s nuclear force posture and stated nuclear doctrines are based. However, as Dr. Abdullah noted, the stated postures and polices are fluid. “With situation change, there is policy change,” Dr. Abdullah repeated throughout her presentation. Dr. Abdullah explained that Pakistan’s belief that “ambiguity strengthens deterrence” allows the country to have more response options, but also raises the potential for uncontrolled escalation during a crisis. Dr. Abdullah concluded her remarks by stating, “Full spectrum deterrence aims to upscale the risk of violence at all levels of war – to dissuade aggression.”