Date: 26th September 2016 Venue: Pearl Continental, Lahore

Press Release

28 October 2016

Islamic finance leaders call for greater synergy between regulators and market players to propel Pakistan’s Shariah finance industry

Lahore, PAKISTAN ­– Pakistan has an enviable Islamic finance growth story, achieving healthy double-digit growth over the past five years and is en route to achieving its 20% market share target by 2020; however, the growth of the industry has been disproportionate, with low participation from the retail side and liquidity management remaining a core challenge facing the Islamic finance community. Nonetheless, experts who gathered at the highly successful IFN Pakistan Forum 2016 in Lahore are optimistic that with greater collaboration between regulators and market participants, the South Asian nation could see a more balanced growth across different Islamic finance segments.

Held on the 26th September, the IFN Pakistan Forum, supported by the State Bank of Pakistan and the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan, hosted over 350 senior industry practitioners who engaged in meaningful and insightful discussions on the current state of the Islamic banking and finance landscape in Pakistan, opportunities for the market, challenges and the future of the industry.

It is widely agreed that Pakistan has had a good Islamic banking run – and this is largely due to the proactive stance and effective measures implemented by the regulators to develop the industry. However, the expert panelists also acknowledged that there are still deep challenges hindering the industry from realizing its full potential. Among the issues outlined include: cumbersome legal procedures and complex documentation which deter issuers (including the government) from selling Sukuk which then leads to a lack of investable Shariah compliant instruments, an overreliance on the corporate sector for higher margins, an unfavorable perception of Shariah compliant finance among the public and an Islamic finance talent shortage to support the industry.

At the retail level, there is an urgent need for both regulators and market participants to educate the public on the value proposition of Islamic finance and also for Islamic banks to be bolder in taking risks associated with individual investors. At over 180 million, Pakistan holds tremendous Islamic finance opportunities.

At the institutional level, Pakistan’s massive infrastructure needs especially those under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) represent lucrative Islamic finance public-private partnership opportunities. High potential sectors include renewable energy, hydropower and construction. Industry leaders agree that with Pakistan’s Vision 2025, which has identified the development of the energy sector and the modernization of existing infrastructure as critical components to sustainable nation development, and the US$45 billion-worth of CPEC investments, there are significant opportunities for Islamic banks to park their surplus funds.

However, these opportunities – both at a retail and institutional level – cannot materialize without qualified human capital resources to mobilize these transactions. It is estimated that some 15,000 Islamic finance professionals are needed by 2020 to support the fast-growing Shariah finance market, an industry whose growth is outstripping the ability of institutions to churn out required talents. Both academia and market participants discussed and debated on what is needed to overcome this mismatch and agreed that both public and private universities as well as regulators will need to align their efforts to develop a standardized curriculum for Islamic finance and banking qualifications, deepen the Islamic economics research body and invest in moulding an Islamic banking and finance faculty.

Gathering the leading Islamic finance elites of Pakistan at this one-day event, the IFN Pakistan Forum ended with a high-level, invite-only, closed-door dialogue during which senior industry players and regulators discussed and debated on various issues, developments and solutions to position Pakistan as a world-class Islamic finance market.





State Bank of Pakistan
Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan


Bank Alfalah


Finance Accreditation Agency


Islamic Banking Industry of Pakistan
Allied Bank Limited: Islamic Banking Group
BankIslami Pakistan
Dubai Islamic Bank Pakistan
Faysal Bank
Meezan Bank


National Investment Trust Limited


Islamic Finance news


Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS)


The Business Year
Voices of Leaders


Centre for Excellence in Islamic Finance (CEIF), IBA