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Innovation becomes Pakistan’s basic currency: Ahsan Iqbal

Lahore : Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Reforms Prof Ahsan Iqbal has said innovation has become basic currency of Pakistan and the country who would do better innovations would make better progress. The government has
set the goal to produce twenty thousand PhDs in the next ten
years to enhance knowledge economy of the country.
He was addressing the 6th Invention to Innovation Summit organized by Punjab University Office of Research, Innovation and Commercialization, Pakistan Science Academy, Institute for Research Promotion, UMT and others at Al Raazi Hall here on Wednesday. PU Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Zafar Mueen Nasir, UMT Rector Hassan Sohaib Murad, Chairman Pakistan Science Foundation (PSF) Dr Muhammad Ashraf, CEO, IRP – DG, UMT Abid H. K. Shirwani, Director ORIC Prof Dr Tahir Jamil, researchers, scientists, faculty members and a large number of students were present on the occasion.

Addressing the summit, the minister said that the incumbent government was using its location for economic cooperation instead using it for power game. He said that the Pakistan which was previously known for terrorism now was being recognized as emerging economy and centre of China Pakistan Economic Corridor.

He said that many foreign countries had expressed their interest in becoming part of CPEC, which was a great change. He said that Gawadar would become model port city and centre of trade of the region in the next 20 years. He said that we must put our country on the road to wealth production with the participation of all the areas and segments of the country.

However, he said, it was possible only when we had competitiveness. He said that we must adopt the principal of survival of the fittest and our products and services must match international standards. He said that we could not compete international markets unless we had strong industry-academia linkage. He said research in our universities must be aligned with our industry.

He said that our research agenda must focus on improving standard of life, products and fulfill the demands of the society. He said that productivity, quality and innovation were the three drivers of growth. He said that we must brand our quality products and there was no buyer for poor quality products. He said that our religious leadership had failed to play role in highlighting importance of invention and innovation.

He said that there was 18-hour loadshedding three years ago but now electricity remained available 18 hours a day today. He said that unprecedented investment had been made in energy sector in the last three years and 10 thousand megawatt additional electricity would be added by 2018. He said the world was restoring confidence in Pakistan and foreign automobile giants would set up their factories in country.

He said that the government would produce 20 thousand PhDs in the next ten years and 10 thousand PhDs would be produced under US-Pak Knowledge Corridor project in top-ranked US universities. He said that it was our responsibility to equip our youth with knowledge and skill. He urged the students to believe in Pakistan’s bright future and say good-bye to negative thinking. He congratulated Lahoris on successful PSL final in the city and said that we would completely defeat terrorism.

Addressing the conference, PU Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Zafar Mueen Nasir said that universities as creators of knowledge had to be linked with real economy to shape up true knowledge economy. He said that we need to provide latest technologies to add value in our raw materials and export high value products and services. He said that academia must also involve its best human resource on solving country’s problems. He said that under US-Pak Knowledge Corridor project, 10 thousand PhDs from USA would increase our research and technology capacity.

He invited proposals on how to increase technology diffusion in Pakistan. He said that technology, presentation and poster awards would also be given to distinguished participants of the conference in order to encourage them. Pakistan Science Academy Chairman Prof Dr Muhammad Ashraf said that PSA was striving for generating funds and currently executing 35 international projects. He said that modern countries were focusing on reverse engineering.

University of Management and Technology Rector Hasan Sohaib Murad said that Pakistan was losing competitiveness in foreign markets due to which our exports were decreasing. He said that we needed to revamp our business schools and gap between academia and industry must be reduced.

He said that our youth must be empowered to enter export market. Institute for Research Promotion CEO Abid Sherwani said that it’s a platform to buy and sell technologies and find solutions to technological problems. He said that there were some problems in commercialization of technologies which must be removed in order to market our products. He urged the government to give protection to local technologies.

Lahore Chamber of Commerce’s Vice President Amjad Rajwana stressed the need to introduce policies and create environment to enhance country’s export volume. PU ORIC Director Prof Dr Tahir Jamil said that the summit was a big opportunity to bridge gap between academia and industry. He said that scientists, researchers and industrialists from all over the country would interact and benefit from each other in the summit.

Later, Federal Minister Prof Ahsan Iqbal inaugurated technology exhibition and visited all the stalls. He also took special interest in various indigenous technologies for their commercialization. The summit would continue today.

Talking to the media men at the ‘6th Invention to Innovation Summit’ at the Punjab University here on Wednesday, he said funds worth 86 billion rupees has been approved to train 10000 PhDs at the best US universities under the US-Pakistan Knowledge Corridor as well.

The Planning and development Minister, responding to a query, said the government has taken many initiatives to enhance knowledge economy of the country, adding that the budget of the Higher Education Commission (HEC) has been increased from Rs 100 billion to Rs 215 billion.

To a question, Ahsan said the work has been started to set up university sub-campuses in all districts, adding that this initiative would provide best educational facilities to the students from FATA, GB, Baluchistan and this project will be completed within 3
years.He said the government has also launched STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Maths) initiative under which centers of excellence are being set up to strengthen these subjects in collaboration with the provincial governments and the HEC while funds have been allocated for this project as well. “Information technology holds supreme importance in government’s priorities, adding that the fiber optic, being imported under the CPEC, will prove to be the backbone of country’s digital
infrastructure”, he added.

About PSL, the federal minister said the foreign cricketers, irrespective of their cricketing stature, who played PSL final in Lahore and stood by us in the fight to defeat terrorism are our benefactors and heroes. He said nobody has the right to demean
cricketers on racial basis or through the use of derogatory remarks.
“It is a pity that some politicians made some remarks about the Pakistan Super League (PSL) Final, adding that the PSL presented the resolve of the people, adding that despicable remarks by some politicians were regrettable”, he responded.

To another question, he said PTI Chairman Imran Khan, who himself was a world-class fast bowler, should know that his comments on the PSL cricketers were not aligned with the aspirations of the nation. He said it is the basic flaw in Imran Khan’s personality
that he takes decisions within the shell of his ego and person while he fails to understand the mood of the nation.

“When Imran Khan held sit-ins, the nations was least interested in it; when he pressed for the Panama papers issue,the nation was more interested in the work of the government and revival of country’s economy; and when he opposed PSL, the nation
aspired for the success of PSL”, he remarked.

Ahsan Iqbal, to another question, said Imran Khan was independent in his decision-making but he would definitely help PML-N win the two third majority in the National Assembly in the 2018 General election if he continued to take such silly decisions.

About the military courts, he said the whole nation is unanimous on the issue of extension to the military courts we all wish to defeat terrorism in collaboration with the armed forces and the civil institutions.

The Federal minister Ahsan Iqbal said the country is faced with extraordinary situation, adding that the military courts bill be adopted through consensus.

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