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


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


Similarly the government need to allocate appropriate funding for

implementation of STI policy in national development plans including a

sizeable allocation for RandD 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.

By Web Team

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