Science diplomacy initiative to improve Pakistan’s access to smart technologies: FM

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ISLAMABAD, Jan 16 (APP):Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi here on Wednesday said the Science Diplomacy initiative would focus on establishing international research collaborations, capacity building, improving public health, matching labour skills with international market requirements. The initiative, he said would also improve Pakistan’s access to smart technologies and international technical assistance, especially in the context of the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The Foreign Minister expressed these views while inaugurating the first high level Inter Agency meeting on “Science Diplomacy”, a press release issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.

This initiative was launched in September last year with the designation of a focal point (Science Diplomacy Division) to act as a liaison between national Science and Technology stakeholders and international partners.

Welcoming the participants of the meeting, the Foreign Minister outlined the main contours of the Science Diplomacy initiative which included building constructive international partnerships in science and technology and to deal effectively with trans-boundary challenges such as climate, energy, water, poverty reduction, health and education.

Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua in her remarks, highlighted the fact that the idea of using Science as an instrument for Diplomacy was not new. This was being actively pursued by many countries as a vital tool of foreign policy

The important role of relevant ministries, government departments, educational institutions and private sector entities in international collaborations in Science and Technology was underscored.

The Foreign Office hoped to act as a catalyst for all such endeavors in line with the national development priorities and S&T policies and strategies. Science Diplomacy initiative would also facilitate the work of the National Knowledge Economy Task Force headed by Prime Minister Imran Khan especially in the context of international collaborations.

Dr. Tariq Banuri, (Chairman), Higher Education Commission, Dr. Yusuf Zafar, (Chairman), Pakistan Agricultural Research Council (PARC), Prof. Dr. Iqbal Chaudhry, Director HEJ institute, University of Karachi, Brig. Dr. Aamer Ikram, (Executive Director), National Institute of Health, Islamabad, Dr. Erum Khan, (Chair of Institutional Biosafety Committee), Agha Khan University and Dr. Nasir Khan, Executive Director, National Vocational and Technical Training Commission (NAVTTTC),  presented proposals in their areas of expertise outlining possible avenues for international cooperation and the role of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in that regard.

With the help of inputs and feedback of both public and private sector stakeholders, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will formulate a plan of action to facilitate international STI collaborations and act as a catalyst to support different projects and programs related to the national development agenda.

The meeting was attended by senior representatives from both public and private sector dealing with health, education, science and technology, energy, climate change, food security, industries and SDGs.