The Institute of Development and Economic Alternatives (IDEAS) was established in 2006 with a vision to strengthen the economic and social foundation of democracy in Pakistan by producing rigorous quality research. The institution was ideally placed to capitalize on potential opportunities created by Pakistan’s democratic transition and the devolution of power during that time. Additionally, based on the collective expertise of its founding members and Board of Directors, the IDEAS mission is to create and strengthen local capacity to undertake rigorous research and advocacy on economic and social issues critical to Pakistan’s economic sustainability and democratic future. The founding objective was to identify through research pivotal opportunities of policy reform, both in terms of feasibility and impact, and subsequently use that knowledge for advocacy and policy engagement.
The imperatives for focusing on the democracy question stemmed from the context at that time – the passage of the 18th amendment, devolution, and the transition from one democratically elected government to the next. In the past six years, both this context and IDEAS as an organization have changed considerably. Over the years, IDEAS has developed expertise in using rigorous, mixed-methods research in each of the four thematic clusters. At its core, however, IDEAS has remained true to its founding vision and its fundamental, encompassing ideal – to work on issues that help deepen democratic engagement in Pakistan. The reason for this is that now more than ever, these issues are even more relevant, and there is a critical need to develop informed coherent narratives around them.
In this evolved context, the main objectives for IDEAS within its existing vision are:
- To shape the agenda around popular discussion and policy discussion in our chosen areas of work;
- To use evidence-based research to shape relevant discourse and policy discussion; and
- To work on issues that help deepen Pakistan’s democratic, economic and social development.