Think tanks – or policy institutes – have had an interesting history. Although the first think tank may have started sometimes in 1831 when Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies (RUSI), was founded in 1831 at the initiative of the Duke of Wellington; even until 1970s only a few dozen think tanks were there around the world. And most were non-partisan.
Things have changed over the years. Think tanks typically now further the political agendas of their political or organization donors while looking all serious and independent. In fact, a think tank these days goes hand in hand with a PR exercise. If the big oil companies want to give a message, they have a think tank doing that for them instead. Or if the tobacco lobby wants to tailor their message they have the think tanks do that. There are Republican and Democratic think tanks in the US, there are Communist, Secular, Religious think tanks in India.
Pakistani think tanks are mostly created and/or led by the Military and Intelligence personnel and are mostly involved with Internal politics, Religion, Regional Geo-politics etc.
Economist has brought out a world map with the distribution of think tanks in different regions/countries. You can see that the major distribution are US, Russia, UK, and Western Europe.
Which “think tank” do you follow or respect?