The Government of Pakistan is committed to support the Commission on Science and Technology for Sustainable Development in the South (COMSATS) in view of the critical role it is playing for S&T capacity-building to relieve the developing countries from the bonds of poverty and underdevelopment. These views were shared by Mr. Fazal Abbas Maken, Federal Secretary, Ministry of Science and Technology while addressing the inaugural session of the 19th Meeting of COMSATS Coordinating Council.
This year, the COMSATS Institute of Information Technology (CIIT) took the honour of hosting the Council meeting, which is annually held at one of the S&T institutions affiliated with COMSATS as its Network of Centres of Excellence, spread over four continents. Out of the present 20 Centres of Excellence, 16 are participating in this year’s Council that belong to China, Colombia, Egypt, Ghana, Iran, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Nigeria, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Senegal, Syria, Tanzania and Tunisia. Representatives of some international organizations, namely UNESCO, ICGEB, SESRIC, and ECO Science Foundation, are also attending the meeting as observers.
Apart from Council members, the inaugural session was attended by the representatives from government ministries and departments, S&T organizations, R&D institutions, and diplomatic missions of COMSATS’ Member States in Islamabad. Dr. Ishfaq Ahmad, Chairman Board of Governors, National Centre for Physics (NCP), also graced the inauguration with his presence.
During his inaugural address, Mr. Maken expressed confidence in the international operations of COMSATS and lauded its services in the domain of science and technology to Pakistan and other MemberStates. He hoped that this international platform would be effectively used for finding scientific solutions to developing countries’ problems and lead them to economic prosperity.
Speaking on the occasion, Dr. I. E. Qureshi, Executive Director COMSATS, highlighted the pivotal position the Council holds in coordinating international programmes with other statutory bodies of the organization. He noted that this platform having representation of renowned scholars, with wide experience and strong influence, well-recognized at national level in their countries, provides an opportunity for real-time scientist-to-scientist interactivity that renders invaluable opportunities of cooperation, exchange of ideas, and sharing of human and material resources. He expressed faith in the scientific leaders of Member States attending the Council meeting for coming up with an effective agenda to energize their respective governments to improve standards of their R&D institutes and to facilitate South-South Cooperation.
In his message, Dr. Eduardo Posada, Chairperson Coordinating Council, noted that dependence on developed countries for aid and intellectual support helps but is not sustainable and comes at a cost of national integrity and security. He emphasized the need for directing efforts to strengthen COMSATS, an organization of the developing countries, in order to improve its visibility and influence the decision-makers for the promotion of S&T for socio-economic development of the South.
Earlier, Dr. S.M. Junaid Zaidi, Rector CIIT, hoped that the meeting serve as a catalyst for strengthening the South-South cooperation on knowledge exchange and creation of new knowledge. He noted with pleasure that his Institute carrying the acronym ‘COMSATS’ has realized fast-pace growth since its establishment in 1998 and vows to breaking into a new era of growth and success with a vision to be among the best seats of higher learning, within the COMSATS Network in particular and the world in general.
A Major highlight of the inauguration was the ceremony of signing of COMSATS’ accession agreement by H.E. Prof. Dr. Aboubacar Senghore, Minister for Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology, Islamic Republic of The Gambia, and Dr. I.E. Qureshi, Executive Director COMSATS. By virtue of signing this agreement, The Gambia has become the 24th Member State of COMSATS. While addressing the gathering the Honourable Minister noted that his Government is making all out efforts in building relevant infrastructure in the country for the promotion of science and technology. He sought COMSATS’ support in the area of higher education. On the occasion, Rector CIIT pledged CIIT’s strong support to the new MemberState by offering scholarships to the Gambian students and expertise for developing its academic institutions.
The Council is going to deliberate on a 12-point agenda during its Islamabad meeting, and is expected to elect a new chairperson, deliberate on the existing and new programmes, review activities of Centres of Excellence, consider the induction of the Mohamed V University of Morocco into its Network, as well as discuss financial and administrative matters of the organization.