Management & Fellows
CEO and Chief Analyst – Arif Ansar
Arif has over 18 years of consulting experience with various branches of the US government, including USAID, the Department of State, US Geological Survey, and the Department of Defense. His cross industry experience includes Defense-Security, International Development, and Information Technology sectors. Arif has worked as a Senior South Asia Analyst with Boeing, Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), Northrop Grumman, and Academy for Educational Development (AED).
From 1999-2000, he was involved with the Water Rights sub-committee of the Middle East Peace Process (Israel, Jordan, Palestine) and supported the US Government initiative in developing a regional educational curriculum for the region, premised on water and environmental conservation. From 1995 to 2000, Arif worked as a Monitoring and Evaluation consultant at the Center for Development Information and Evaluation (CDIE), under Policy and Program coordination Bureau (PPC) of the United States Agency for International Development. In 1998 Arif was involved in assisting the Chief of the Office of Economic and Strategic Planning (OESP) at UNDP in developing a strategy for implementing information and technology initiatives in Latin America (Brazil and Venezuela). From 1996 to 1997, Arif worked on Leland Initiative of the US Congress, implementing projects in Africa (Ethiopia and Eritrea) that dealt with the effective use of information and communication technologies.
Arif has a BA (Political Science and International Relations) and MPA (Policy Analysis) degree from the University of Toledo. He also has an Executive Certificate in Strategic Management of Technology and Innovation from the University of Maryland, University College.
Director, Strategic Initiatives – Dr Claude Rakisits
Dr Claude Rakisits has had almost 20 years of experience in advising senior government and political leaders in strategic defense, foreign affairs, and trade issues. From 1999 to 2005, he served as a Senior Adviser to the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, to the Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs, and to the Deputy Prime Minister of Australia. He was also the Director at the Strategic Policy Division of the Australian Department of Defense.
In 2006-2009 he taught international affairs at tertiary institutions in Switzerland. From 2010-2013 he was the academic adviser at the Centre for Strategic and Defense Studies, the senior staff college at the Australian Defense College in Canberra. He was also a member of the Office of National Assessments, Australia’s principal analytical intelligence agency.
Claude is a Senior Fellow at the Center for Australian, New Zealand, and Pacific Studies at Georgetown University, Washington DC, Nonresident Senior Fellow at theSouth Asia Center of Atlantic Council, Washington DC, and an Honorary Associate Professor in Strategic Studies at Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia. Claude obtained his PhD from the University of Queensland in 1988. His doctoral thesis was on national integration in Pakistan: the role of religion, ethnicity and the external environment. His publications and media interviews can be viewed on his homepage: www.geopolitical-assessments.com.
South Asia and Middle East Fellow – Abdullah Khurram
Abdullah Khurram is a South Asia and Middle East Fellow (SAME Fellow) at PoliTact and a Visiting Research Fellow at Global Public Policy Institute (GPPi), Berlin, Germany. Previously he was based at the Committee on International Relations, University of Chicago. Khurram also serves as a strategic consultant for Gulf State Analytics and was formerly a Research Associate at the Middle East Institute in Washington, D.C. Earlier he was affiliated with the Institute of Strategic Studies in Islamabad, Pakistan and Economic Policy Research Institute, Cape Town, South Africa. Khurram’s post-graduate research at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) in Bologna, Italy focused on Conflict Resolution, and his alma mater involves The University of Chicago and George Mason University.
He is also the co-founder of Mashal Foundation, a Pakistan-based education NGO. For his services in the field of education, Khurram was presented a National Award from the Government of Pakistan.
South and Central Asia Fellow – Zia ur Rehman
Zia Ur Rehman is a South and Central Asia Fellow (SACA) at PoliTact. He covers security and political affairs of Pakistan and Afghanistan. His work has been published in various national and international publications, including The Friday Times, The New York Times, Dawn, Central Asia Online, CTC Sentinel, and Jamestown Foundation . He is the author of the book ‘Karachi in Turmoil’ published in 2013.
Rehman has worked with Management Systems International (MSI), USAID, United States Institute for Peace (USIP), Amnesty International,Open Society Foundations, Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) and Labour Education Foundation (LEF). He belongs to Swat Valley, Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa and presently lives in Karachi. For his excellent research and journalism, he has received many awards.
South and Central Asia Fellow – Shreyas Deshmukh
Shreyas Deshmukh is a South and Central Asia Fellow (SACA) at PoliTact and is based at the Centre for Land Warfare Studies (CLAWS), New Delhi. He obtained his master’s degree in Defence and Strategic Studies from the University of Pune. Earlier he was affiliated with the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA) where he co-edited a book “Unending Violence in Pakistan: Analyzing the Trends” and multiple issues of Pakistan News digest. His areas of study include Socio-Political developments and security related matters in the Afghanistan-Pakistan (Af-Pak) region.
South Asia and Asia Pacific Fellow – Kulsoom Belal
Kulsoom Belal is a South Asia and Asia Pacific (SAAP) Fellow at PoliTact. She is also a Coordinator and Assignment Editor at the Institute of Policy Studies, Islamabad. Kulsoom obtained her M Phil in Strategic and Nuclear Studies from the National Defense University of Pakistan in 2014.
Kulsoom’s research focus includes the impact of cruise missiles on South Asian ‘strategic stability’ and ‘stability-instability paradox’; China-India bilateral relations; Iran-Afghanistan-Pakistan security trilemma; and military doctrines in South Asia. Her M Phil dissertation concentrated on US-China-India strategic triangle in the Asia Pacific and its implications for Pakistan’s Nuclear Deterrence.
Kulsoom is also involved with a welfare organization, ESAR Trust, as its founding member and project manager.
Asia Pacific Fellow – Nishat Kazmi
Nishat Kazmi is a Asia Pacific Fellow at PoliTact. He is also a Yenching scholar at the Yenching Academy of Peking University, Beijing, where he is conducting research on the Chinese foreign and trade policies, One Belt-One Road initiative, China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), and China’s role in the United Nations.
Center for Research and Security Studies
Previously, he was a Research Associate at the Centre for Research and Security Studies (CRSS), Pakistan. As part of a major track II initiative, his work with CRSS focused on regional security and bilateral cooperation issues between Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Institute for Environmental Security
Nishat is also the Pakistan Representative and Advisor with the Institute for Environmental Security (IES), headquartered in The Hague.
Bureau of Global Military Advisory Council on Climate Change
He has been a key member of the Bureau of Global Military Advisory Council on Climate Change, a network which brings together serving and retired military officers from around the world to promote actions that help counter the adverse impacts of climate change.
The Hiroshima Peacebuilders Center
In early 2016, Kazmi was based at The Hiroshima Peacebuilders Center on the Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs fellowship – focusing on peace-building, development, and international institutions.
Hienrich Boell Stifung-Pakistan
Nishat has also been associated with the Heinrich Boell Stiftung-Pakistan. He was instrumental in designing and organizing an India-Pakistan Track II Dialogue on Climate Change in 2013 – a major regional peace-building initiative of HBS Pakistan. He was an active member of the HBS’s delegation at the International Climate Negotiations in Warsaw in 2013.
He holds a B.A.LLB (Hons.) degree from Punjab University, Pakistan, and an LLM from Maastricht University, The Netherlands, where he specialized in international and European economic law on a Huygens Scholarship.
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