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A blueprint for development

Since the formation of Pakistan, successive governments have largely ignored
 
the key pillars necessary for socio-economic development including
 
education, science, technology and innovation, access to a quick and effective
 
justice system that swiftly punishes the corrupt and a visionary, honest and
 
technologically competent government. 
 
The era that we live in today has been termed by the World Economic Forum
 
as a technological revolution that constitutes the fourth industrial revolution.
 
The future source of wealth will be access to information and the ability to
 
accurately predict market trends by ‘Big Data’ mining. While industrial-scale
 
businesses have historically been the source of wealth, a new important
 
factor introduced in recent decades has been the role of innovation and
 
entrepreneurship that involves facilitation of new business start-ups, access
 
to venture capital, government enabling policies to promote private sector
 
research and development, as well as ease of doing business.
 
For science and technology to have their due impact on society, government
 
policies need to be redesigned in order to incentivize private business and
 
investors as well as academic and research institutions to work in synergy in
 
order to develop strong knowledge-based economies.
 
In order to develop a strong knowledge economy we need to make Science,
 
Technology and Innovation the focal points for development. For this
 
purpose we must take the following measures, some of which I have also
 
recommended for the Unescap region, in my capacity as chair of the STI
 
Committee:
 
There is a need to establish a clear short, medium term and long terms
 
vision, strategy and action plan for integrating STI into all sectors of the
 
government ranging from industry and agriculture to health,
 
communications and social services. Similarly the STI vision needed to be
 
supported with a strong and visionary leadership at the level of the prime
 
minister for its effective implementation and position the mandate for STI in
 
the office of the prime minister to ensure strategic implementation.
 
There is also need of conducting regular foresight exercises, aligned to the
 
Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and integrated across all line
 
ministries, in consultation with all stakeholders, to help in building
 
functional innovation systems and to transition to knowledge based
 
economies.
 
Similarly the government need to allocate appropriate funding for
 
implementation of STI policy in national development plans including a
 
sizeable allocation for R&D which should be at least three percent of GDP and
 
progressively increased to five percent of GDP.
 
Undertake institutional reforms including the restructuring of institutions of
 
higher learning and research, those providing testing, quality and standards
 
related services, as well as legal and financial institutions.
 
Grant ‘pioneering status’ to high-tech industries with suitable long-term
 
tax-free status to promote manufacturing and exports in high-tech fields, 
 
provide government insurance for under-writing risk in new high-
 
technology ventures and establish a revolving ‘innovation fund’ to support
 
indigenous high-technology development in the public and private sector.
 
Declare a ‘National Education Emergency’ so that the appalling state of
 
education in Pakistan can be tackled on a war footing and allocate at least 10
 
percent of GDP for education to improve access as well as quality of primary,
 
secondary, technical, vocational and higher education.
 
For the above measures to be implemented, we need a government composed
 
of top technocrats who realise the importance of a knowledge economy in
 
this new knowledge-driven world.

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A BLUEPRINT FOR DEVELOPMENT SINCE THE FORMATION OF PAKISTAN NATIONAL EDUCATION EMERGENCY

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