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Ishrat Hussain Pakistani banker

Ishrat Husain PhD is a Pakistani banker and economist who served as the dean of the Institute of Business Administration and the Governor of the State Bank of Pakistan. Born in Allahabad, British India, Husain moved to Karachi in 1947 and joined the civil service in 1964. He received his M.A in development economics in 1972 from the Williams College and his PhD from the Boston University in 1978. He joined the World Bank in 1979, working initially as the country economist for Liberia. In 1994, Husain became the chief economist for Asia-Pacific region and between 1997 and 1999 headed World Bank’s operations in Central Asia. He ended his World Bank career in 1999, and was appointed as the Governor of the State Bank of Pakistan and remained until December 2005. In 2008, he was appointed as the Dean of IBA Karachi, in 2015 he was awarded the Nishan-e-Imtiaz by President Mamnoon. He resigned as the dean of IBA in 2016, however remains the Professor Emeritus of the institute. During his tenure, IBA expanded from a solely business school to a interdisciplinary university. In 2016, Hussain joined the Woodrow Wilson Center as a resident policy fellow.


Husain holds a Master’s degree in development economics from Williams College and a Ph.D. in Economics from Boston University. He is a graduate of the Executive Development Program jointly sponsored by Harvard, Stanford and INSEAD.

Husain joined the elite Civil Service of Pakistan in 1964 and served in the field and also held mid-level policy making positions in the Finance, Planning and Development departments before moving to Washington in 1979 to join the World Bank as an Economist in West Africa Programs Department. He became the Bank’s Resident Representative to Nigeria in 1983 and led the Bank’s team that assisted Nigeria in formulating its first ever structural adjustment program in 1986. On his return to headquarters, he headed the Bank’s Debt and International Finance Division and contributed to the development of Bank’s strategy that led to World Bank and International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) participation in the Brady Initiative for Debt Reduction.


As Chief Economist for Africa between 1991–94 and later as Chief Economist for East Asia and Pacific Region he guided and supervised the Bank’s analytical work on the countries in these regions. In 1997 he was named the Country Director for Central Asian Republics and managed the World Bank’s relations, programs and policies with these countries. Earlier, he was the director of Poverty and Social Policy Department. He was responsible for the Bank’s policies and strategy development in such areas as Poverty Reduction, Gender Relations and Dynamics, NGOs, and Reform within the Public Sector. He was the Chairperson of the Public Sector Group.

Husain became the Governor of Pakistan’s Central Bank in December 1999. During the next six years, he implemented a major program of restructuring of the Central Bank and steered the reforms of the banking sector, which are now recognized by the World Bank and IMF to be among the best in developing countries. The main ingredients of the program were merit-based recruitment, competency-enhancing training, performance-linked promotion, technology-driven business process and induction of high-level skilled human resources. He placed great emphasis on practicing values such as integrity, trust, teamwork for the entire work force starting from the top.

Nancy Birdsall with Hussain at IBA Karachi.

Chairman, National Commission for Government Reforms (2007–2008).

Governor, the State Bank of Pakistan (1999–2005). Director, Institute of Business Administration, Karachi (March 2008–Present).

Dr. Husain held the following positions during his tenure with the World Bank.

  • Director for Central Asian Republics
  • Director, Poverty and Social Policy
  • Chairperson of the World Bank’s Public Sector Group
  • Chief of the Debt and International Finance Division
  • Chief Economist of the World Bank for East Asia and Pacific region
  • Chief Economist for Africa
  • Resident Representative in Nigeria
  • Chairman, South Asian Network of Economic Research Institutions (SANEI)
  • Member, Board of Directors, Pakistan National Council of Arts
  • HEC Distinguished National Professor Chairman,
  • HEC Social Sciences Committee Chairman,
  • Kashf Foundation Member, Board of Trustees,
  • The Aga Khan University (AKU) Member, Board of Governors,
  • National School of Public Policy (NSPP) Member,
  • Governing Council, International Centre for Education in Islamic Finance (INCIEF), Malaysia
  • Member, Board of Directors, National Academy of Performing Arts (NAPA)
  • Member, Board of Directors, Mahbubul Haq Centre for Human Development
  • Member Senate, Pakistan Institute of Development Economics (PIDE)
  • Distinguished Visiting Fellow, Social Policy Development Centre (SPDC)
  • Member, Advisory Council, Woodrow Wilson Center


  • Asian Banker Life Time Achievement Award 2006.
  • Economists Ishrat Hussain and Usman W. Chohan in Canberra (2016)

    Central Bank Governor of the Year in Asia Award (2005) by The Banker magazine. The first Pakistani Governor of the State Bank to receive the award.

  • Jinnah Award (2005) in recognition of his outstanding and meritorious services to people as Governor of the State Bank of Pakistan.
  • Hilal e Imtiaz – Conferred by the President of Pakistan 2003.
  • Nishan-e-Imtiaz – Conferred by the President of Pakistan for his services in the field of education, 2015.


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