If objectives are examined, parliament committees are of use to both legislature and government as they recommend courses of action.

If objectives are examined, parliamentary committees are of use to both legislature and government as they review proposed laws, monitor government policies and actions, identify issues for legislation and administrative measures, and recommend courses of action.

However, a leading parliament insists that the government is not taking these panels seriously.

“Thomas Woodrow Wilson, the 28th president of the United States, once wrote that [US] Congress in session is Congress on public exhibition, whilst Congress in its committee rooms is Congress at work. That holds true in Pakistani case as well but the government attitudes are so indifferent to our [parliamentary bodies’] role and work that a sense of worthlessness overwhelms us,” chairman of the Senate standing committee on science and technology Mushtaq Ahmed told ‘The News’.

Pakistani parliament has a total of 67 standing committees for ministries, including 34 of the Senate and 33 of the National Assembly.

According to Mushtaq Ahmed, who belongs to the opposition Jamaat-i-Islami, his panel recently came up with a comprehensive plan on how to promote science and technology in educational institutions, encourage research and development, build industry-academia linkages and reverse a huge brain drain from the country for national progress, but the ministry and other relevant authorities didn’t even bother to examine it what to speak of acting on it.

“We’d suggested that our foreign missions in the West establish good liaison with Pakistan-origin experts for the sharing of knowledge and expertise to promote science and technology in the country, but no one at the helm heeded that idea,” he said.

The lawmaker regretted the ‘disinterest’ of the current government in benefitting from the collective wisdom of parliament and insisted that science and technology minister Fawad Chaudhry was too preoccupied with moon-sighting and political controversies to do something really tangible to deliver the goods, especially on sovereignty-threatening energy insecurity, a lack of intellectual property protection, and other serious issues of the country.

He said Pakistan recently became a laughing stock around the world after the S&T minister declared that the Hubble Space Telescope was launched by the country’s space agency, SUPARCO, and not NASA of the United States.

Complaining about rampant red tape in government organisations, Mushtaq Ahmed said a student of the National University of Science and Technology left the country and settled in Australia over failure to patent a low-cost artificial skin he’d developed promising a new release of life to the victims of burns and acid attack.

He agreed that the standards of scientific and technological education in the country were not up to the mark, and said they would improve only after the government prioritised the development of science and technology.

“It’s all about priorities. Pakistan has a big crisis in the shape of coronavirus outbreak, but just tell me if the premier called any scientist conference to discuss how to tackle it or honoured any scientist to encourage others in the field. When you [government] don’t have science and technology on your agenda, slash its meagre budgets drastically, and dillydally administrative reforms, then things are not going to change,” he said.

The article is originally published at The News.