15 April | 2024

Lahore, Pakistan

Public talk on Pakistan’s opportunity for science diplomacy

ISSI Director General Sohail Mahmood says science diplomacy offers chance to address environmental challenges, help enhance technological innovation, economic growth

The Centre for Strategic Perspectives (CSP) at the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad (ISSI) hosted a public talk in Islamabad on Pakistan’s opportunity for science diplomacy in South Asia. Dr Saleem H. Ali from the Geography Department of the USA’s University of Delaware was a keynote speaker.

In his compelling presentation, Dr Saleem Ali outlined the pivotal role of science diplomacy, emphasizing how collaborative scientific efforts can transcends national boundaries to foster peace and sustainable development. He underscored Pakistan’s unique position, given its rich scientific heritage and strategic geographical location, suggesting that the country can play a leading role in utilizing science for diplomatic endeavors on a global scale.

Dr Saleem Ali proposes agreements on research integrity, merit-based criteria for students, research fund, and effective science communication strategies to counter misinformation

Highlighting the need for scientific collaborations, he stressed the importance of addressing climate change, pandemic preparedness, sustainable development goals, and other pressing challenges. He advocated for a dynamic diplomatic approach, proposing agreements on research integrity, merit-based criteria for international students, a research collaboration fund, and effective science communication strategies to counter misinformation.

Dr Saleem Ali’s vision for Pakistan’s role in science diplomacy encompassed a proactive stance in international forums, promotion of south-south collaboration, and the strategic harnessing of science and technology as essential tools for achieving peace and prosperity. His comprehensive framework positioned Pakistan as an important player in influencing the global scientific landscape and contributing significantly to cooperation and progress.

In his remarks, ISSI Director General Sohail Mahmood highlighted the importance of science diplomacy in interconnected world and lauded the Foreign Office’s initiative which served as a key platform for facilitating the interface between the national science and technology stakeholders and international partners. He noted that this was helping to foster beneficial collaboration on key areas with the relevant institutions, foreign organizations, and countries.

He said that science diplomacy in South Asia offers a chance to address environmental challenges and help enhance technological innovation and economic growth. He said that the collaborative research and development projects can lead to the creation of new technologies, improved infrastructure, and increased scientific capacity in the region. Centre for Strategic Perspectives Director Dr Neelum Nigar welcomed the participants to the discussion, underscoring the subject’s significance for the South Asian region.

Dr Neelum Nigar underscores significance of science diplomacy for South Asia

Featuring as discussant, Additional Secretary for Arms Control and Disarmament and Policy Planning Kamran Akhtar highlighted the progress made by Pakistan within the context of the Ministry of Foreign Affair’s science diplomacy initiative. Representing the Pakistan Embassy in Brussels, Kamran Akhtar provided a detailed overview of Pakistan’s active involvement in various scientific initiatives, notably the EU’s Science for Diplomacy (S4D) initiative, outreach to the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), and the university linkages geared towards fostering collaboration among the developing countries.

He highlighted Pakistan’s commitment in showcasing the myriad dimensions if its scientific programs, underscoring the country’s dedication to utilizing science for peaceful and developmental purposes. His insights shed light on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ ongoing efforts to seamlessly integrate science and technology into Pakistan’s diplomatic initiatives. Notable achievements include the signing of multiple memorandums of understanding within educational institutions, the expansion of science scholarships, and establishment of science diplomacy focal points in Pakistani missions abroad.

The event concluded with remarks by Khalid Mahmood, who underscored the need to enhance the role of science in diplomacy, emphasizing its potential to contribute to a different international image of Pakistan. He emphasized the importance of tapping into the expertise of the highly talented and active Pakistani diaspora, noting their historically pivotal role in the country’s development. The public talk was attended by representatives of COMSTECH and COMSATS, academics, practitioners, and students.