By Paras Ali

HUMANKIND HAS enormous resources to improve the living conditions of all, but the prevailing imbalances and inequalities are giving rise to deep unease. Unfortunately, there is a huge global disparity in terms of trained human resource in science related fields. Most scientific potential is still concentrated in a limited number of countries which, as a result, are holding for themselves the keys to major further developments.

This was the crux of the remarks given by various high profile speakers at a recently held ceremony here in connection with the World Science Day celebrations at COMSTECH.

The event was jointly organized by the Pakistan Science Foundation (PSF), Ministry of Science and Technology (MoST) and UNESCO. A large number of students, scientists, academicians and general public attended the ceremony.

The World Science Day is observed across the world on November 10 to mark the achievements of people in science and technology. PSF and UNESCO observe this day every year in a befitting manner, but this year due to weekly holiday on November 10 the Day was celebrated on November 14 so that maximum number of scientists and students could participate in it.

While addressing the opening the ceremony, Federal Minister for Science and Technology Mir Changez Khan Jamali said that the theme for 2012 Science for global sustainability: inter-connectedness, collaboration, transformation throws light on globally interconnected and interdependent economic, social, cultural and political systems.

He appreciated the collaboration of PSF which is evident from its current collaborations with many international organizations such UNESCO, USDA, Academy of Science and Centre Science France, SAARC, National Natural Science Foundation, China, US National Science Foundation (US-NSF), Italy, Turkey and ECO counties, to attain the target of global participation and subsequent knowledge inclusion through this to improve our system as well.

In his address, PSF Chairman Prof. Dr. Manzoor H. Soomro said that developing countries generally spend well below one per cent of their GDP on scientific research, whereas rich countries devote between 2-to-3 per cent. The number of scientists per million population in the developing countries is 10 to 30 times smaller than in developed countries, he said.

Our future strategic focus would be on research and leading edge technologies that will be interdisciplinary, data-intensive, collaborative and most likely to generate new knowledge and lead to competitive enterprises in the fields of science and engineering that would give potential returns to science, technology, and society, he added.

Dr. Soomro said that in addition we aim to develop through funding and transfer creative, original technologies that are necessary to advance our nations science and technology base.

UNESCO Islamabad Director Dr. Kozue Kay Nagata said that this years theme of World Science Day is very relevant to Pakistan, which has very good potential in terms of human resource. She said Pakistan needs a broad base of scientific knowledge.

Federal Secretary for Science and Technology Akhlaq Ahmad Tarar said that the UNESCO Director had raised particular issues and assured her that the government of Pakistan was trying to address these issues by constituting some working groups.

On the occasion, Dr. Ashfaq Ahmad narrated mentioned his efforts to get declared November 10 as the World Science Day by the United Nations some 10 years back.

Later, the chief guest awarded Z.A. Hashmi RandD Gold Medals to Dr. Ikramul Haq from GCU, Dr. Aslam Baig from QAU and Shaheena Fiaz from Karachi University for the years 2008, 2009 and 2010 respectively. The medals were also awarded to students who stood winners of science essay and poster competitions to acknowledge their contribution to science.

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