Safdar Sohail

Safdar A. Sohail

About Dr Safdar A Sohail

Dr.  Safdar Sohail retired as the Special Secretary to Cabinet Division, Government of Pakistan in May, 2020. He was also a member of Inquiry Commission on Debt, as well as, the Special Cabinet Committee on Reorganization of Federal Government at that time. He served as Senior Member in Prime Minister Inspection Commission, Islamabad (April-May 2019).

Besides having dedicated most of his professional career to civil services, Dr. Sohail has remained committed to his academic inclinations and determination to work towards social change. After retirement, he constituted Pakistan Alliance for Social Protection (PASP); a network of about twenty leading organizations and distinguished professionals, with a common objective to promote Universal Social Protection in Pakistan. In 2020, as the convener of PASP, Dr. Sohail joined forces with other experts to establish Social Protection Resource Centre, a dedicated think-tank for producing knowledge and evidence on various subjects of relevance to social protection in Pakistan. He is currently serving as the Executive Director of the Social Protection Resource Centre. He is also the Director of SPRC initiative for Studies in Globalization and Development (SIGAD).

Dr. Safdar received his PhD. from Paris Nanterre University in Sociology and his MPhil. from the same, in Sociology and Social Demography. He has various local and international publications to his credit and regularly addresses in international and regional conferences, workshops, and seminars.

Dr.  Safdar A Sohail

Past Professional Experience

National Institute of Management Sciences

From February 2021 – October, 2022 he served as the Dean at National Institute of Management Sciences (NIMS), National School of Public Policy and formerly as its Director General (August 2017 – April 2019). As DG NIMS, he led reforms in upgrading the research activities through a new research manual and external faculty.

Ministry of Commerce

In February 2017, he became Executive Director General, Ministry of Commerce, GOP. Earlier on, his tenure as the Economic Minister of Pakistan’s Mission to European Union (July, 2013 – December, 2015) is marked with significant developments. He led the major arrangement of managing the dossier of GSP plus candidature, under which Pakistan gained duty free aces to EU market. He was also responsible to lead the negotiations on trade, investment and foreign aid matters; address non-tariff barriers; undertake advocacy and lobby with European Parliament. In 2015, Dr. Sohail negotiated Technical Assistance for ‘Export Diversification of Pakistan in EU’ with Commonwealth Secretariat, London, on behalf of the Ministry.

From July, 2010 – June 2013, he served as Director General Trade Policy in the Ministry of Commerce, where he developed and led the implementation of Strategic Trade Development Framework (2009-2012 and 2012-2015). The first STPF (2009-2012) underlined the conceptual framework for a national competitiveness development programme. Dr. Sohail was also responsible for the Trade and Transport Facilitation Project of the World Bank as Project Director.

During his tenure (2006-2010) as the Director General Pakistan Institute of Trade and Development (PITAD), he worked on important matters and projects with EU, World Bank, ADB, UNESCAP, Commonwealth Secretariat and UNCTAD. Some of his engagements in this position include:

  • Principal author, first Strategic Trade Policy Framework (2009 – 2010)
  • Principal author, Draft National Sustainable Development Strategy of Pakistan for SDPI/UNEP, 2008
  • Member, Steering Committee, Food Security Assessment 2008 Project of SDPI, WFP & Swiss Development Cooperation
  • Member, Technical Committee, Water for Development Project, Planning
  • Principal author, Draft National Educational Policy 2007

In his midcareer, Dr. Safdar also served as the Commercial Counsellor in Pakistan High Commission to Kenya/Easy Africa for five years (Jan2001 – Oct 2006).

Ministry of Planning, Development and Reform

As Member Governance, Planning Commission (May 2017 to July 2018) Dr. Sohail managed the governance reform agenda, initiated in 2014 with the help of UNDP. Given his background understanding of social policy, he worked towards modifying socio-economic objectives for next five-year plan by giving give due importance to social policy. 

In January 2016, he was posted on deputation as Founding Executive Director, CPEC Centre of Excellence and Joint Director, Pakistan Institute of Development Economics at Pakistan Institute of Development and Economics to establish a public policy think tank on China Pakistan Economic Corridor. Alongside, he also worked as principle technical advisor on CPEC to the Ministry of Planning Development and Reform. He worked closely with all stakeholders including the China Development Bank to finalize the Long Term Plan of CPEC. As convener of the CPEC Joint Working Group JWG, in December 2016, he led the Pakistan side during 6th Joint Coordination Committee (JCC) meeting and prepared the Action Plan for Pakistan-China Industrial Cooperation for the year 2017.


Dr. Sohail is also Senior Visiting Fellow at Pakistan Institute of Development Economics and Member Advisory Board, China Pakistan Study Centre, Institute of Strategic Studies, Islamabad. He has also been associated with Sustainable Development Policy Institute, as visiting fellow.

Dr. Safdar has been appointed as the Chairman of Grievance Committee created under the Executive Committee of the Senior Citizens Council (2023) by the Ministry of Human Rights. In areas of research, He is also member of the Editorial Board of Sussex University Journal. He volunteers his time for the joint initiative of Ministries of Health and Human Rights to make Islamabad Capital Territory a better place to live for the persons with disabilities and elderly. He is also the Convener of Islamabad Club Library and Literary Committee. Dr. Sohail is also Senior Visiting Fellow at Pakistan Institute of Development Economics and Member Advisory Board, China Pakistan Study Centre, Institute of Strategic Studies, Islamabad. He has also been associated with Sustainable Development Policy Institute, as visiting fellow.

Teaching and Academics

Adjunct Faculty, Punjab University Lahore (2022- Till Date)

Course taught: History of Economic Thought, Ph. D. (Class 2021-2022 & 2022-2023)

Adjunct Faculty, National Institutes of Management

Islamabad, Lahore, Karachi, Peshawar, Quetta. Ongoing lectures to SMC and MCMC participants. Topics: Workshop on Public Service Motivation and Ethics; Services Sector Development; CPEC; Public Service Delivery at federal and provincial level; Trade Policy

Lecturer, Department of Ethno-methodology,

Paris University 7 Denis Diderot, France, (1997-98)

Designed and taught a course on ‘Sociology of Development in Pakistan’

Lecturer, South Asian Civilization and Languages,

Institute National des Langues Orientales, [INALCO], Paris October 1997- January 1999

Senior Instructor at the Civil Service Academy,

Govt. of Pakistan, Walton, Lahore (March 1994-August 1997).

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