Pakistan on way to becoming Associate Member of CERN

Lead 04-25_optParas Ali

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan, the only nuclear power from the Muslim World, is now fast approaching to have another feather in its cap as it is the strong candidate for joining the worlds most prestigious, classified and largest particle physics laboratory CERN (European Organisation for Nuclear Research) as an Associate Member.

“Pakistan has applied for the status of Associate Member of this physics laboratory (CERN),” a senior executive of a Pakistani organization working on the issue, disclosed to this scribe on condition of keeping anonymity.

According to the official, besides Pakistan several other states particularly India, Israel and Brazil have applied for Associate Member of the CERN.

He also said that presently Pakistan is a Non-Member State of CERN since November 1994 while India had become an Observer at CERN in 2002, a position that literally allows it to observe the proceedings at the Council meetings and speak when invited to do so.

“Pakistan has very bright chances to become Associate Member of CERN before India, chiefly due to the extraordinary performance and collaboration of Pakistani scientists. Although the cost of having this status is very high but Pakistan might have advantages of in-kind contribution which is more than the contribution of the annual fee which is about over $10 million,” said the official.

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He pleaded that our country should arrest this rare opportunity as also it reflects the international recognition that Pakistan has ability of science and technology. “The benefits we can get from CERN are more than the annual fee of membership. The advantages are human resource capacity building are too much in addition to getting various contractual projects,” remarked the official.

He further said that the CERN Associate Membership will not only open the doors of mega science experiments for the Pakistani scientists but also help them participate in training and education programmes held at the laboratory.

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“Becoming the Associate Member will allow Pakistan to have the right to attend both the open and restricted sessions of the CERN Council which is highly prestigious feature,” said the official.

It is to be mentioned here that presently, the Pakistani institutes collaborating with the CERN are Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission, COMSATS, Quaid-E-Azam University, Islamabad, National Center for Physics, Pakistan Institute of Nuclear Science and Technology,  (PINSTECH), National University of Sciences and Technology, and College of Electrical and Mechanical Engineering.

The CERN convention was signed in 1953 by the 12 founding states including Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and Yugoslavia, and entered into force on September 29, 1954.

Regarding the progress on Pakistans becoming the Associate member of CERN, India has shown its concern with one of its eminent physicist Bikash Sinha saying, it would be “very embarrassing” for them if Pakistan steers ahead of India and becomes an Associate Member at CERN.

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He also said that the implications are huge if Pakistan gets early entry in CERN.

Co-operation with the PINSTECH in the area of radioprotection is being organized as several high-level Pakistani officials have visited CERN, including the former President Musharraf in January 2006.

The official said that discussions are in progress with the COMSATS for the setting up of a version of the CERN physics teachers programme in Islamabad.

It is worth mentioning here that in the wake of a huge amount of annual fee for the associate membership in CERN, there is a group of certain scientists who argue that Pakistan should not go for this status against this heavy price and should work on other related areas to make it eligible for this highly privileged status, while others plead for this membership to make a big progress on particle physics in a short span of time.

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