Need for SAARC Science Foundation
Pakistan, with its meager resources and limited manpower, finds itself unable to achieve its cherished goals of progress especially in the fields of science and technology which can be the core factor in the national development. No doubt that Pakistan has always been in the forefront in suggesting and offering proposals of inter-state cooperation in various development sectors. Pakistan already is a signatory rather a driving force behind a number of regional cooperation blocs especially seven-member SAARC, 10-member ECO and 21-member COMSATS (with its permanent headquarters in Islamabad). Though main focus of the first two blocs – SAARC and ECO – is trade, economy and political cooperation, yet there is a wider need to expand this cooperation by including science and technology areas. A couple of years back, Pakistan had proposed constitution of the ECO Science Foundation which was widely welcomed and materialized with the setting up of the Science Foundation having its permanent headquarters in Islamabad. What the Europe and Western world have achieved in terms of development and progress in the present times is the offshoot of the mutual cooperation by entering various agreements, signing conventions and protocols, establishing blocs in almost all sectors burying their hatchet or resolving whatever their regional controversies were. And now they are bearing the fruit of this cooperation rather set terms and conditions of their own choice while dealing with the developing or under-developing states. Since South Asian countries especially SAARC states are from the developing world and are making hectic efforts to make national progress by utilizing their all resources – natural as well as human, there is a desperate need for them to enter science and technology cooperation, the potential key to progress. Pakistan, as it has done in the cases of establishing COMSATS and ECO Science Foundation, should lead from the front and propose constitution of a Science Foundation of SAARC states. This platform, if established, would prove to be an effective forum where all the SAARC states can take collective steps to the benefit of their people by designing ways and means to pool up their resources for such benefits. In terms of population, the sphere of influence of SAARC is the largest of any regional organization as almost 1.5 billion people are the combined population of its member states. SAARC since its inception in 1983 has been a potential platform of promoting cooperation, trade, culture and resolving regional disputes between the member states. Potential is very much there, SAARC states are in desperate need of promoting research and development in science and technology and Pakistan should take the leading role this time too.