Qalam Pakistan Initiative

Qalam Pakistan Initiative (QPI) is a donor funded program, in the History Department, to help foster and promote the study of the history of Pakistan at Columbia and in NYC.

Columbia University has had a long and storied relationship with Pakistan since its independence in 1947. The first Prime Minister, Liaquat Ali Khan, was given an honorary Law degree at Columbia during his inaugural visit to the United States in 1950. In 1951, Pakistan’s Government announced a gift to create a center of “Pakistan Studies” in the planned Near and Middle East. This was realized in 1953 as a gift of $25,000 annually for ten years. Shahid Suhrawady was the first visiting Professor under the Center. Professor of History, Ainslee T. Embree (1921-2017) would spearhead a number of initiatives including hosting of prominent Pakistani bureaucrat-historians–SM Ikram (1908-1973) and IH Qureshi (1903-1981)–at Columbia in the 50s and early 60s. In 1973, Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, announced a “Quaid-e Azam Chair” at Columbia to be housed in School of International Affairs.

QPI aims to promote and strengthen the study of history in and about Pakistan. It has sponsored book talks, workshops, and cultural events since 2022. QPI is currently coordinated by faculty member Manan Ahmed. QPI works closely with the Center for Study of Muslim Societies and South Asia Institute at Columbia.

QPI Sponsored Events:

  • Fall 2022: Grammy-Winning Artist Arooj Aftab in Sold Out Concert at Symphony Space.
  • Spring 2023: Historian Ali Raza on “A War of Succession: Partition, Decolonization and Paramilitary Violence in South Asia”
  • Fall 2023: Historian Hafsa Kanjwal on “Colonizing Kashmir”
  • Fall 2023: Farid Ayaz and Abu Muhammad Qawwal Group Concert at St Paul’s Chapel

Event Posters: