Losing ground for science & technology

The 13th OIC summit has decided to shift the COMSTECH summit to Astana, Kazakhstan, following the Pakistani governments decision to twice postpone the international event last year owing to the volatile security situation across the country. Even efforts are afoot in the OIC headquarters to also shift the committees headquarters from Pakistan. The move is being viewed as a major diplomatic setback for Pakistan, which was chosen as COMSTECH secretariat (Islamabad) in recognition of its vigorous contributions to science and technology. If it happens, which could be possible, the country would lose a lot in terms of various research and development projects in the field of science and technology involving about US $ 300 million investment, which is nothing less than a big blow to the country and its people. The COMSTECH was established by the OIC summit in 1981 with an aim to build on indigenous capabilities in science, technology promotion and cooperation in relevant areas. At this stage, it cannot be ruled out that this major shift in decision could be due to the enhanced political influence of India in the Arab world. But even then government officials are hopeful that the 15th General Assembly of the COMSTECH would be held in Islamabad next month without assigning any schedule. The cancellation of COMSTECH summit at the eleventh hour was not less than embarrassment for the its secretariat as about 36 states had confirmed their participation ahead of the summit in October last. Though the security situation arose out of the terrorist attacks – Army Public School attack and Badaber Military Complex, in Pakistan was given the major reason behind this cancellation, yet it has created a wave of discontentment and unease among the member states that ultimately led to the decision to shift the summit Kazakhstan. The postponement became even more painful as 2015 was selected to hold the science and technology summit to coincide with the UN declaration of 2015 as the “Year of Light” as well as celebrate contributions of Muslim scientist, mathematician, astronomer, and philosopher Ibn Al-Haytham who was considered the father of modern optics. The country needs this event to revive basic science, nurture thinking minds, build a culture of science, make people employable, make advances in education and ensure the security of water, food and agriculture. But a saner approach is needed on the part of government to reset its priorities with a serious focus on science and technology as it cannot afford any loss like shifting of COMSTECH summit as well as its secretariat.

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