Staff Report ISB: While marking the 20th anniversary of COMSATS, scientists and researchers are of the unanimous view that the COMSATS is playing a vibrant role achieving its set goals by adopting a multifaceted strategy that is based on advocacy of SandT; capacity building, and South-South cooperation. They considered the establishment of COMSATS as one of the Prof. Dr. Abdus Salams desires that were fulfilled by Pakistan, also saying the COMSATS should further strengthen collaboration with policy-related institutions.

They expressed these views at a ceremony held in Islamabad to mark the COMSATS 20th anniversary.

The ceremony was presided over by Dr. Ishfaq Ahmad, former Advisor to PM on Science and Technology, and founding member of COMSATS International Technical Advisory Committee. Begum Shahnaz Wazir Ali, President SZABIST and former Special Assistant to PM, also graced the occasion. In 1994, she had signed the intergovernmental agreement on behalf of the Government of Pakistan to establish COMSATS.

The event had full representation of the COMSATS family in Pakistan, including the officials from COMSATS Secretariat, COMSATS CIIT, COMSATS Internet Services (CIS), Ministry of SandT and its affiliated institutions. Also present on the occasion were the former Executive Directors and employees of COMSATS; representatives of COMSATS member state embassies in Islamabad, including China, Egypt, Kazakhstan, Korea D.P.R, Sri Lanka, Sudan and Tunisia; as well as representatives of COMSATS international partner organizations.

In his welcome address, Executive Director COMSATS, Dr. Imtinan Elahi Qureshi, remarked that COMSATS is vibrant and healthy. In order to achieve the grand vision of the Commission, he explained the multifaceted strategy has been adopted that is based on advocacy of SandT; capacity building, and South-South cooperation. He also paid tribute to the employees, who over the years have been contributing to the success of the organization.

On the occasion, Dr. Ishfaq Ahmad gave an account of his personal interaction with Prof. Dr. Abdus Salam and considered the establishment of COMSATS as one of the Prof. Salams desires that were fulfilled by Pakistan.

Begum Shahnaz Wazir Ali noted that COMSATS has been single handedly promoting the cause of science and technology for sustainable development in Pakistan. She believed that scientists have a greater responsibility of identifying new ways to finding solutions to the socio-economic problems in developing countries. She was especially appreciative of a number of initiatives taken by COMSATS in Pakistan, which she termed as “strategic”.

The three former Executive Directors present on the occasion noted that the organization has come a long way in realizing the vision of Prof. Salam and showed confidence in the present leadership and programmes of COMSATS. Parvez Ahmed Butt, the founding Executive Director especially felt intrigued by COMSATS initiative of International Thematic Research Groups (ITRGs), which, he believed, is prompting the use of scientific research by pooling intellectual resources from the countries of the South for national development.

In his remarks on the occasion, Dr. Junaid Zaidi noted with pleasure his early contributions towards the organization that included drafting the concept papers on CIS and CIIT. He also highlighted the progress made by CIIT over the years.

In his video recorded message, Prof. M.H.A Hassan, the former Executive Director TWAS, recalled that Prof. Abdus Salam was driven by the intense passion of achieving the highest standard of scientific excellence, and changing the working conditions of scientists in the developing world.

At the end, a short interactive discussion session steered by Dr. Ishfaq Ahmad and Shehnaz Wazir Ali touched upon issues like disparities between emphasis on science and education, North-South divide, open knowledge sharing, and role of SandT in addressing key development issues.

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