Session 1: Poverty Graduation

Panel Discussion: Graduation: A route to sustainable transformation?

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Dr. Sania Nishtar


SI, FRCP, Ph.D


Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) of Pakistan/Federal Minister, Poverty Alleviation and Social Safety Division  [Session Chair]


Dr. Sania Nishtar is Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) of Pakistan/Federal Minister, Poverty Alleviation and Social Safety Division (PASSD). She also chairs the Benazir Income Support Program (BISP), Pakistan’s biggest safety institution, and the Government of Pakistan’s Council on Poverty Alleviation (PACC). Dr. Sania Nisthar is also the co-chair of World Health Organization’s High-Level Commission on Non-communicable diseases along with the presidents of Uruguay, Finland and Sri-Lanka. She is also a member and former chair of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on the Future of Healthcare and has recently chaired the U.S National Academy of Sciences Global Study on the Quality of Healthcare in low and middle-income countries. In addition, she also chairs the United Nations International Institute for Global Health’s Advisory Committee. She has founded the NGO Heartfile in Pakistan and has also previously served as a federal minister in the Pakistan government in 2013. In 2017, she was Pakistan’s nominee for Director-General of the World Health Organisation and was in the final shortlist of three. Earlier she was also founding Chair of the UN Secretary General’s Independent Accountability Panel for Women’s and Children’s health and chaired WHO’s Commission on Ending Childhood Obesity. She has received many international awards for her work and is widely published. Sania Nishtar graduated from Khyber Medical University as the best graduate in 1986. She is a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and took a Ph.D at Kings College London.

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Hubert Boirard

Country Programme Manager, Pakistan International Fund for Agricultural Development


Mr. Boirard is currently responsible for IFAD's portfolio for Pakistan, Mongolia and Iran managing the investment design processes and negotiations with the government.
During the last four years, Mr. Boirard managed an average of USD 1 billion portfolio that focused on rural and agriculture transformation, access to rural finance, poverty graduation, public private partnerships, and youth / women economic integration. Since 2006, he had the opportunity to manage the IFAD programmes for Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Bangladesh, Niger, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Chad and Central African Republic.

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Qazi Azmat Isa

Chief Executive Officer, Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund


Qazi Azmat Isa has 30 years of experience in the development sector. He is CEO of Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund, the lead apex institution for community-driven development in Pakistan.
Qazi Azmat Isa has a passionate commitment to improve the lives of poor and marginalized people across Pakistan. This commitment is tempered by a healthy pragmatism which emanates from a diverse and cross-sectoral work experience and having had close contacts with government (federal and provincial), NGOs, Donors (Multilateral and Bilateral) and communities. This background has provided Mr. Qazi Azmat Isa with a deep insight of the issues in development and has enabled him wherever he has worked to forge genuine partnerships between all key players in the development process and delivering results for the deprived and underprivileged.
Previously Mr. Isa was with the World Bank working in the rural and social sectors. Posted in Afghanistan he managed the largest community driven development programme in the country and initiated a nationwide rural enterprise programme. Before that he headed a large NGO in Balochistan. He is a member of Poverty Alleviation Coordination Council and currently serves on several boards including Pakistan Microfinance Investment Company Limited, and Benazir Income Support Programme; the premier safety net programme in Pakistan.

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Dr Imran Rasul

Professor of Economics at University College London, co-director of the Centre for the Microeconomic Analysis of Public Policy at the Institute for Fiscal Studies, and research co-director of the Entrepreneurship Research Group of the International Growth Centre


Dr. Rasul’s research interests include labor, development and public economics and his work has been published in leading journals such as the Journal of Political Economy, Quarterly Journal of Economics, Econometrica and the Review of Economic Studies. He is currently managing editor of the Journal of the European Economic Association, and he been a co-editor and director of the Review of Economic Studies (2009-17). He was awarded the 2007 IZA Young Economist Prize, the 2008 CESIfo Distinguished Affiliate Award, an ERC-starter grant in 2012, and a British Academy Mid-career Fellowship in 2018. In 2018 he was elected as a Council Member of the Royal Economic Society (RES) and as a Council Representative on the RES Executive Committee from 2018-2023. In 2019 he was jointly awarded the Yrjö Jahnsson Award in Economics (received jointly with Oriana Bandiera), awarded to a European economist no older than 45 years old who has made a contribution in theoretical and applied research that is significant to economics in Europe. In 2019 he was elected as a Fellow of the British Academy.