Pakistan – COI

Syed Mohammed Ali


Syed Mohammad Ali is an anthropologist with twenty years of experience working on international development, governance, human rights, and human security challenges within the South Asian context. Besides his academic writings, which include a book, several book chapters and academic articles, Dr Ali writes a weekly newspaper op-ed since 2004. Dr. Ali is a Non-Resident Scholar affiliated with the Middle East Institute in Washington D.C. He does research on varied socio-cultural and political challenges confronting Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. He is experienced in preparing a variety of evidence-based reports, including project evaluations, terrain assessments, and policy and position papers for bilateral and multilateral agencies, and for prominent think-tanks like the United States Institute of Peace. Dr. Ali has also taught graduate and undergraduate level in Australia and the United States. Recently, he has been teaching graduate seminar courses at American, Georgetown, George Washington, and Johns Hopkins Universities. Dr. Ali also speaks Hindi, Punjabi and Urdu.

Waheed Ahmad


Waheed Ahmad is a Human Rights Lawyer from Pakistan. He has worked as an Appellate Court Attorney for the past 22 years and defended more than a thousand clients (juveniles, women, and minorities including the LGBT community) most of them deprived of their fundamental human rights. He has been invited to over thirty-three countries to deliver lectures and speeches on the finite matters of Pakistan’s politics and Legal system.
In his almost 2 decades of work as an Advocate, he has gained expertise in the following fields:   
  • Divorce, Child Custody, Maintenance & Other Family Laws
  • Extremist and violent groups, including religious groups
  • Human rights violations
  • Women issues: honour killing, Domestic violence
  • Child trafficking
  • Minority and religious groups
  • LGBT Community
  • Availability of medical services etc.
His professional assistance is offered as a legal expert for authenticity and verification of documents, expert reports for courts and the police, social services, law firms, and private individuals, and Legal advice/ Legal representation in Pakistan for the area mentioned above. He speaks English, Urdu, and Punjabi. He also offers his Legal Advice free of charge to NGOs.

Dr Owen Bennett Jones


Dr Owen Bennett Jones has written over 40 reports for asylum seekers in the UK and US. These have dealt with a range of issues including honour killings, sectarian violence, threats from the Taliban and from the state. He has written reports on the plight of the elderly, Ahmadis, Christians and Hindus as well as those facing land disputes. He is an expert on Pakistani politics and society generally with a focus on the intelligence services and jihadi groups. Courts in the US and UK have accepted him as an acknowledged expert on Pakistan. He has been working on Pakistan since 1998 and is a regular visitor to the country where he has very good levels of access. His history of the country, Pakistan: Eye of the Storm, published by Yale University Press and now in its third edition, is a standard text for diplomats and scholars. As well as many BBC articles he has written a number of essays for the London Review of Books that have broken new ground on Pakistan. He has done a lot of work on the MQM.

Prof Joya Chatterji


Chatterji Joya is the Director of the Center for South Asian Studies at the University of Cambridge.He is an expert on India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. His research topics are migrants, minorities and citizenship, South Asian history, Muslim migration, secularization, South Asian Diaspora, Refugee in west Bengal and the Bengali Muslims. He authored and published extensively and lectured in different universities around the world especially in the UK, India and the US. He speaks Hindi, Bengali, Urdu, Assamese, Punjabi.

Dr Gil Daryn


Dr Gil Daryn is a social anthropologist (PhD Cambridge 2002) and published scholar with expertise on the culture, society, history and politics of South Asia. Since 1989, he has visited, conducted research, worked and lived in the region for a total of over thirteen years, and currently resides in the region. In addition, he became professionally involved with asylum seekers and refugees while working in UNHCR’s Kathmandu office as an Associate Durable Solutions Officer during 2008-9. In this capacity, he went through UNHCR’s archives, read in detail many private refugee files, and became familiar with Pakistan’s Country of Origin information and the RSD process. In addition, he also conducted focus group discussions and interviews with many refugees and held detailed discussions with them. Since 2005, Dr Daryn has served as a consultant and expert on asylum and human rights and has written over 170 Expert Witness Reports. In recent years he also contributed information about specific issues to ACCORD (Austrian Centre for Country of Origin and Asylum Research and Documentation).

Among the issues Dr Daryn often writes about are: the justice system, gender issues including so-called ‘honour killing’ and gender minorities, sectarian violence, criminal and terrorist groups, land disputes, the health including mental health systems, minority groups, political parties, and other aspects of culture, society and history of the countries in South Asia.

Claudio Franco


Claudio Franco worked in Pakistan and Afghanistan as a journalist between 1999 and 2007 for a variety of international publications. In 2007, he set up a consultancy firm with offices in London, Kabul and Peshawar and has since focused on in-depth research and ad-hoc consultancy work for institutional clients, think-tanks and academic clients serving as a consultant on terrorism in these regions for ABC Television. He also collaborated with Jane’s-IHS, an online resource for information on defence and security, the Hudson Institute, Integrity Watch, GIZ, USIP and the Afghanistan Analysts Network (AAN). In 2006, Mr Franco produced a documentary for the BBC focused on radical Islamism in the UK. His main interests include radical Islamism, international migration flows and security in areas affected by low-intensity conflicts.

Dr Shaul Gabbay


Dr Shaul Gabbay acts as a resource for immigration attorneys seeking advice, counsel and expert testimony in asylum cases. Formerly the Executive Director of the Institute for the Study of Israel in the Middle East at the University of Denver, he has published extensively on cultures and customs in all Muslim countries, persecution issues based on family dishonour, gender and homosexuality, and sociology and politics of the Muslim world. Professor Gabbay’s expertise helps immigration attorneys and judges understand key societal issues and trends in the Muslim world that have life-threatening repercussions for Muslim immigrants throughout the U.S. at risk of deportation. His oral testimony and written analysis draw on his extensive knowledge and examination of cultural practices in Muslim countries as well as his life experience growing up in the Middle East. More information is on his website

Dr Zubair Iqbal


Dr Zubair Iqbal is an adjunct scholar at the Middle East Institute specialising on Pakistan. Dr iqbal has coordinated discussions of the Working Group on Pakistan’s economy and has been writing notes and articles on regional developments, including Pakistan’s economic challenges, factors underlying the democratic movement in the Arab world, and outlook for the future. Prior to joining the MEI in 2008, Dr Zubair Iqbal worked with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for thirty-five years, retiring in 2007 as Assistant Director of the Middle East and Central Asia Department. Before joining the IMF, Iqbal worked as Senior Research Fellow, Department of Economics, Islamabad University, Islamabad, Pakistan. At the IMF, Iqbal held multiple postings ranging from those for the development of macroeconomic and exchange and trade policies for adjustment and growth in member countries, strategies for IMF-member country relations, design of adjustment programs for the balance of payments assistance and technical support. In addition to operational work, Iqbal conducted and guided research in trade policy issues, role and effectiveness of foreign aid, external debt, Islamic banking and finance, regional integration (primarily in the Middle East), and transition from oil dependence to more diversified economies. In the process, he wrote or edited 5 books and over forty articles in the IMF and external research publications.

Imran Khan Laghari


Over the last decade, Imran Khan Laghari has worked on Human Rights, advocacy, legal assistance/legal aid, protection, democracy and Rule of Law projects in Pakistan, Thailand, Nepal and Afghanistan with the UN, international and national organisations. Imran is also a practising refugee lawyer in Pakistan. He has been engaged in advocacy, awareness and training of different communities and civil society members and has been part of different civil society forums to work for refugee protection in Pakistan. With a particular focus on key protection issues, his main areas of interest are refugees’ legal aid and international humanitarian/human rights law. At present, Imran is a CEO at Human Rights Alliance HRA Pakistan. Recently, Imran completed a Nonviolent Action advance course at the Fletcher School, Tufts University. Further, Imran has an MA in Human Rights from the Mahidol University Thailand, an LLB from the University of Sindh Pakistan, and a BA (Hons) in Political Science from the University of Sindh, Pakistan. He did his MA thesis on honour killing and the role of the criminal justice system in Pakistan. He speaks fluent English, Urdu, Sindh, Hindi, Siraiki, Punjabi, Dhatki and little Dari, Pashto and Thai.

Rubab Mehdi (LGBTI)


Rubab Mehdi is the Chair of International Imam Hussain Council based in the UK and Pakistan, Chairperson International Human Rights Association; lawyer, interfaith campaigner, and a human rights defender. Rubab belongs to a philanthropic background and was the Chief European Co-Ordinator/Spokeswoman Ministry of Human Rights Pakistan. She is a qualified British lawyer and was taught at BPP Law College and Holborn College of Law. In Pakistan, she assisted Barrister Wasim Sajjad (Acting President of Pakistan, Chairman Senate & Advocate Supreme Court of Pakistan) in the formulation of Federal laws and also took on cases ranging from civil litigations to criminal prosecutions involving family disputes, regulatory compliance, corporate frauds and contracts. Over the years, she worked systematically and quietly on a number of significant human rights issues in Pakistan: ranging from female education, orphan care/rehabilitation, disability equality, domestic violence and police torture. Her passion and confidence to speak out regarding the country’s misnomers and taboos have been stated by many as the catalyst through which they themselves entered political/campaigning life.

Dr Matthew J Nelson


Dr Nelson is member of the Department of Politics at SOAS. He has spent several years conducting research in Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh, focusing on the politics of Islamic law and the politics of Islamic education. He has conducted extensive research on the relationship between shari‘ah and democracy in Pakistan. His current work concerns the politics of sectarian and doctrinal diversity in the context of Islamic education. He has provided both oral and written testimony regarding Pakistan for the Foreign Affairs Select Committee of the British House of Commons.

Dr Kelly Pemberton


Kelly Pemberton is a professor of religion and women’ studies at The George Washington University in Washington, D.C. Professor Pemberton specializes in the study of gender, Islam, and Muslim communities in a global perspective, with in-country experience in the regions of South Asia and the MENA (the Middle East and North Africa). She has worked on a number of legal cases involving refugees from Pakistan and India who have sought asylum in the UK, US and Hong Kong. Prof Pemberton is experienced in preparing a variety of research-based and evaluative reports, including expert witness reports, white papers, institutional analyses, gender analyses, concept designs, program evaluations, and guidance documents.

Dr Hoehne Turaeva Rano


The Expert is a Country Expert and academic with extensive fieldwork experience and providing expert reports (100+) for more than 40 firms in the UK, US, Netherlands, and Canada with areas of expertise such as but not limited to:
  • Authentication documents originating from countries of expertise
  • Country reports on the indicated countries of expertise
  • Minority groups, religious groups
  • Political, social and cultural groups: LGBT
  • Organised crime and mafia, state crime
  • Extremist and violent groups, including religious groups
  • Human rights violations
  • Women issues: honour killing
  • Human trafficking
  • Psychiatry and prison conditions
  • Disadvantaged groups e.g. children, minorities, mentally ill, disabled, terminally ill
  • Availability of medical services
  • State structure, military and security services
  • Drug dealing and trafficking

Ambassador Robin Raphel


Ambassador Robin Raphel was U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia and has served at U.S. embassies in both Pakistan and India.  She has extensive experience with all countries in South Asia, Central Asia, and the Middle East region, where she served Ambassador to Tunisia. While she spent most of her career at the Department of State, she has also worked in USAID and the Department of Defense.  She was the Assistance Coordinator in Pakistan from 2009-11, overseeing all US development and humanitarian assistance, including for refugees and the internally displaced, and subsequently a senior policy adviser on Pakistan at the Department of State. Until November 2, 2014, she served as coordinator for non-military assistance to Pakistan.

Dr Raja Adnan Razzaq


Dr Razzaq holds a PhD in the discipline of Refugee and Migration Studies and has worked on the resettlement of Muslim refugees in Pakistan after 1947. He is the founding Chairman of the Society for Migration Studies, Pakistan and also the Country Director Pakistan for the USA based relief organization Friends of Humanity (FOH), Chicago since 2015. FOH is primarily working to provide relief in terms of education, sanitation and medical facilities to stranded Pakistanis especially in the Bangladesh camps after 1971.

DR. Razzaq is serving as Peer Reviewer for reputed national and international academic journals and member of PhD evaluation committees and has provided consultation to the esteemed Oxford Analytica for their projects on the pattern of migratory flow from south Asia into Europe. Mostly, he has published on the issues of the partition of India, Punjab politics and linguistics, Muslim economies in India especially Punjab, communal rioting and refugee rehabilitation etc.

He is willing to discuss the validation of documents (legal documents, threats on the basis of which the applicant has applied for asylum, etc), studies of different political, social and religious organizations and furnishing of expert reports for governmental and non-governmental clients. He speaks Potohari, Pahari, Hindco, Kashmiri, Saraiki, Punjabi, Urdu and English and can understand Pashto and Sindhi.

Kanchana Ruwanpura


Dr Kanchana Ruwanpura is a Senior Lecturer in Human Geography in the School of Geosciences. While a dual citizen (British-Sri Lanka), as a native of Sri Lanka, Dr Ruwanpura’s primary focus of research has been on gender, ethnicity and conflict, post-disaster politics, and more recently labour politics focussing on Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Her research spans three broad themes: a) the diversity of lived and structured spaces which focus on the connections between ethnonationalism, post-disaster, materiality and the environment; b) the convergence and divergence of global governance regimes as everyday experiences for labour; and c) connections between civil society initiatives and uneven development processes. She has written about gender in Pakistan in a report:   Empowered spaces? Management articulations of gendered spaces in apparel factories in Karachi, Pakistan   (2016).

Dr Emma Varley


Dr Emma Varley is a Medical Anthropologist. Since 2012, she is an Associate Professor and the Acting Head of the Maternal, Neonatal, and Child Health (MNCH) Department at the Health Services Academy in Islamabad. Before that, Emma was an Assistant Professor at the Lahore University of Management Sciences. In 2008, she obtained her PhD in Medical Anthropology at the University of Toronto, and her doctoral dissertation focused on the impacts of sectarian conflict and political instability for health service provision and use in the Gilgit-Baltistan region of Pakistan. She returned to Pakistan in 2010, where she has since been teaching and conducting research. Emma’s regional expertise concerns women’s and children’s health, traditional cultural beliefs and practices, gender and Islam, politics and governance, sectarianism, and conflict. In addition to her extensive research in northern Pakistan, Emma has worked throughout the country on academic projects and development initiatives. She is willing to discuss writing expert reports on asylum seekers belonging to minority communities (including the Christians, Ahmadis, Parsis, Hindus and Sikhs), people accused of blasphemy, people having fears on the basis of religious intolerance, political persecution, etc.

Prof Marvin G Weinbaum


Marvin G. Weinbaum is professor emeritus of political science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and served as an analyst for Pakistan and Afghanistan in the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research from 1999 to 2003.  He is currently a scholar-in-residence and Director of the Pakistan Center at the Middle East Institute in Washington DC. At Illinois, Dr Weinbaum served for fifteen years as the director of the Program in South Asian and Middle Eastern Studies. He was awarded Fulbright Research Fellowships for Egypt in 1981–82 and Afghanistan in 1989–90 and was a senior fellow at the United States Institute of Peace in 1996–97. Dr Weinbaum’s research, teaching, and consultancies have focused on the issues of national security, state-building, democratization, and political economy, and he is the author or editor of six books on these topics. Dr Weinbaum has also written more than 100 book chapters and professional journal articles, mostly about Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Iran. He is a frequent contributor to such popular websites as Foreign Policy, Huffington Post and The National Interest. Among his very recent publications are book chapters in edited volumes dealing with the U.S.-Pakistan relations, Pakistan’s political future, state-building and the security challenges in Afghanistan, and the special relationship between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.

Professor Weinbaum is offering his services on a highly selective basis due to the large number of his professional commitments.

Dr Hasan Hafidh


Dr Hasan Hafidh is an academic and expert analyst specialising in Middle East Politics and International Relations having served various roles as a Teaching and Visiting Fellow at King’s College London, SOAS (School of Oriental and African Studies) and the University of Leeds. He has vast experience as an expert witness and document examiner of all issues in his cited specialist areas of expertise, most notably in immigration, asylum and human rights cases for clients and appellants coming from the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region.

Dr Hafidh provides document verification and authentication services of formal and semi-formal Arabic documents. He also focuses on handwriting, handwriting characteristics, tampering, alterations, disputed documents and translation experience, alongside observing criminal documents.

Dr Hafidh is a member of the National Handwriting Association (NHA) as well as a member of the British Institute of Graphologists (BIG). He is obtaining further qualifications with Reed Hayes and the Scientific Association of Forensic Examiners (SAFE) in the near future. Some of Dr Hasan’s publications include: “Civic Space and Sectarianism in GCC States: Dynamics of ‘Informal’ Civil Society in Kuwait and Bahrain beyond State Institutions,” Fibiger, T and Hafidh, H in Studies of Ethnicity and Nationalism (SEN) Vol 19, Issue 1 (April 2019) & “Transnational Securitization of Identity: Distinctions between Securitization and ‘Othering’ of Shias in Bahrain and Pakistan,” co-authored paper with Dr Maryyum Mehmood in Global Discourse, Vol 9, No 4, November 2019.