OXFORD. The Oxford Pakistan Programme (the “OPP”) hosted its annual Allama Iqbal Lecture on March 2, 2023, with renowned economist and public intellectual, Professor Jeffrey Sachs, delivering a wide-ranging lecture on the “Geopolitics of Peace” to a packed audience in Lady Margaret Hall, University of Oxford. Professor Sachs is a world-renowned economist, author, and advisor to governments around the world. He is also Director of the Center for Sustainable Development at Columbia University and a leading advocate of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals. His work focuses on promoting sustainable development.
In his lecture, Professor Sachs highlighted the adverse implications of the geopolitical tensions between the United States and emerging powers like Russia and China. He emphasised the need for a new approach to international relations that prioritises cooperation over domination, and mutual understanding over conflict. He stressed that academic scholarship should focus not only on the description of the causes of conflict but also towards the prescription of the paths to peace.
Professor Sachs highlighted the significance of Allama Muhammad Iqbal’s intellectual thought, especially his vision for a world that is free of exploitation and based on justice and solidarity. He described Iqbal as a man of peace who advocated cooperation and dialogue between civilizations. Professor Sachs quoted the message delivered by Iqbal to the Lahore radio station in 1938 in which he had argued that the ideals of liberty, equality, and fraternity cannot be realized unless we consider the whole world as one “family of God”. Prof Sachs highlighted the relevance of this message for both its own time, having been delivered a few years before the Second World War, but also for contemporary global affairs that require a new geopolitics of peace and cooperation.
The lecture attracted a large audience of Oxford students and senior academics, including several heads of departments and faculties. A number of guests from outside Oxford were also in attendance, including the High Commissioner for Pakistan to United Kingdom, Mr Moazzam Ahmad Khan, and his wife. On this occasion, Mr Abdul Ghani Dadabhoy, the Executive Director of the Dadabhoy Foundation which supports education and social development initiatives in Pakistan and sponsors the OPP’s Allama Iqbal Lecture, stressed the need for dialogue and collaboration. He reiterated the support of the Dadabhoy Foundation in facilitating such conversations and providing a platform to global experts, such as Professor Sachs, to share their knowledge and expertise.
The OPP is an academic initiative at the University of Oxford that, amongst other aims, seeks to promote academic collaboration between the University of Oxford and universities in Pakistan. The Iqbal Lecture was live streamed from Oxford to over 50 participating universities across Pakistan, including universities such as LUMS and IBA, as well as higher education institutions in remote areas, such as Women University Mardan in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the University of Turbat in Balochistan and Karakoram University in Gilgit-Baltistan.
Commenting on the significance of this model of engagement, the Programme’s co-founders Professor Adeel Malik, Dr Talha Jamal Pirzada, and Mr Haroon Zaman emphasized the need to make scholarly voices shaping global discourse accessible to Pakistani students who would otherwise not be able to engage with such speakers. The Iqbal Lecture, they highlighted, also plays an important role in creating a cultural bridge between Oxford and Pakistan. The Iqbal Lecture is held annually, drawing prominent scholars, intellectuals, and policymakers from around the world.
Professor Jeffrey Sachs with the High Commissioner for Pakistan to the United Kingdom, Mr Moazzam Ahmed Khan, Co-Founder of the Malala Fund, Mr Ziauddin Yousufzai, and team members of the Oxford Pakistan Programme
Professor Jeffrey Sachs with Mr Abdul Ghani Dadabhoy, Executive Director of the Dadabhoy Foundation, which is the sponsor of the OPP’s annual Iqbal Lecture at Oxford.
Professor Sachs delivering the Iqbal Lecture in the Simpkins Lee Lecture Theatre at Lady Margaret Hall, University of Oxford.
Professor Sachs discussing Iqbal’s intellectual thought while delivering the Iqbal Lecture in the Simpkins Lee Lecture Theatre at Lady Margaret Hall, University of Oxford.