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Dr Atta-ur-Rehman delivers his lecture at Karachi University.—White Star
Dr Atta-ur-Rehman delivers his lecture at Karachi University.—White Star

KARACHI: Eminent scientist and former science minister Dr Atta-ur-Rehman on Thursday called for coordination between social and natural scientists to adopt ways and means to bring about peace in the world.

“Technology is a double-edged sword and it needs to be used for the betterment and welfare of mankind and not for their destruction,” he said delivering a lecture at the Distinguished Lecture Series organised by Karachi University’s faculty of social sciences at the varsity’s Arts Auditorium.

“To earn peace for human beings,” said the former chairman of the Higher Education Commission and professor emeritus, “coordination between social scientists and [experts in] natural sciences is essential,” he said while responding to a question about why scientists had not done much for establishing peace in the world.

The lecture was titled ‘Science, technology and innovation: imperatives for socio-economic development’.

Dr Rehman compared the GDP and economic growth rate of Singapore and China with Pakistan and attributed their development to the effective utilisation of human resources through quality education.

“If Singapore’s exports are $400 billion, it is unfortunate that Pakistan’s exports are only $22bn because Pakistan lacks in exporting technology and value-added goods.”

He said limited budget spent on education, science and technology in Pakistan was less than the amount spent on construction of Orange Line in Lahore.

He emphasised the need to focus on developing creative minds so as to bridge the gap in knowledge, science and technology.

“Universities are measured on the basis of research work that is done and not on the basis of the high enrolment or buildings.”

He stressed the importance of developing research culture by providing incentives to faculty members and students. He said that instead of increasing the number of universities, emphasis should be laid on ensuring quality control and standard education to students.

Dr Rehman shared some steps that were taken by the HEC under his leadership when 11,000 students were sent abroad for higher studies.

He also talked about the steps that were taken by the HEC in terms of ranking universities to develop a spirit of competition among them. He expressed grief over dramatic decline of HEC in the recent years. Despite this, he was happy to share the ‘threat’ Pakistan had posed to India in the field of science and technology.

He said new innovations would revolutionise the world, which included quantum computing, tailoring of new animal and plant species, ‘golden rice’ with pro-vitamin A to compensate for vitamin-A deficiency, growth of

crops round the year, identification of obesity genes, reversal of aging process, re-engineering of polio virus to cure cancer, and 3D printing/bio-printing of human organs, including kidneys and liver.

He spoke about the availability of devices through which blind people could see and drive cars, real-time translation devices through which communicating with a speaker of any language was possible even if one did not know that language. He also introduced the audience to nanotechnology, e-textiles, and ebb textiles.

Dr Atta-ur-Rehman talked about the inventions of other countries, but also shared his ongoing research on human brain, sharing one interesting discovery that thoughts were not abstract but actually made up of atoms and molecules. According to him, education was being revolutionised in the form of video books.

He emphasised the need to realise the importance of science and technology for economic empowerment. He also encouraged young scholars to play an active role in their field to promote research culture in Pakistan.

In his concluding remarks, Dean Faculty of Social Sciences, Dr Moonis Ahmar said the thirst for knowledge was seemingly missing among the people of Pakistan. He advised the youth to focus on education and make efforts to excel in their field without wasting their time as “we cannot afford to remain poor and backward”.

Dr Ahmar paid tribute to Dr Rehman who he considered a real source of inspiration for the country and the University of Karachi.

Later, the dean presented a plaque to Dr Atta-ur-Rehman.

Published in Dawn, February 17th, 2017

Comments (41) Closed

Mahmood Ayub Feb 17, 2017 09:45am

He is a real asset for Pakistan. I wish we had more Atta-ur-Rahmans in our country

Alba Feb 17, 2017 09:53am

Technological discoveries take years of hard work to happen. They are not miracles that come out of the clouds. The fact is Pakistan's university laboratories do not have the financing and equipment to ever compete with Western universities funded by Western governments and Western business. Why are the Indians launching multiple satellites into orbit? Because they trained in well funded North American and European universities.

Sameer Feb 17, 2017 09:57am

Good man.

Rahul Feb 17, 2017 10:00am

‘Education, science budget less than amount spent on Orange Line in Lahore’

And even less on public safety and security.

jA-Australia Feb 17, 2017 10:02am

Dr Rehman is right. We need the whole chain of primary, secondary and tertiary education as well as an industrial base to employ them. There is no point having high tech industry if there is a lack of qualified personnel, and it is equally futile to train lots of students with no prospects for local jobs.

Zafar ahmed Feb 17, 2017 10:13am

Quote from Dr Atta-ur-Rehman speech " Limited budget spent on education, science and technology in Pakistan was less than the amount spent on construction of Orange Line in Lahore"..Even after 70 years of independence we have not set the priorities in right direction !

Shaukat Ali Khan Feb 17, 2017 10:16am

Orange line project expenditure is one time expenditure being met through foreign funding. Expenditure on education is of recurring nature and met through national funds. Such allocations have not been fully used in the past. So, the comparison is not logical.

The First Thing Feb 17, 2017 10:16am

The country has become a basket case of corruption, loot and plunder. Laws are in name only and everyone who can, is leaving. If all the clever people leave, the ones left behind will not appreciate science and technology.

ali Feb 17, 2017 10:24am

Long live the orange line!

vm Feb 17, 2017 10:36am

whats the need to spend on science and education. Spend more on orange line

Taimur Feb 17, 2017 10:44am

Security, health and education has never been the priority of our government

Muslim Feb 17, 2017 10:47am

Because for PMLN Pakistan is just Punjab and Punjab is just Lahore. If we really want to progress Pakistan then we need to rid of this Lahore only centric party. Otherwise keep on living in La La Land

pakistani Feb 17, 2017 11:12am

The Sharif brothers are so much into metro buses that they don't care about schools and hospitals.

Pakistanis Feb 17, 2017 11:29am

Education is education and orange line is orange line. please don't mess up 2 different things. Govt. is already doing serious efforts to maintain education in Pakistan. Please support them too.

Last comment Feb 17, 2017 11:29am

Who cares !!

anon Feb 17, 2017 11:41am

" budget spent on education, science and technology in Pakistan was less than the amount spent on construction of Orange Line in Lahore...." That line says a lot about the priorities of the govt. and the establishment.

Rizwan Feb 17, 2017 11:53am

What future do we have if we do not give importance to Education !

ali Feb 17, 2017 11:55am

We and they know if people are given education, then who will vote for these corrupt brothers.

Ali Zaidi Feb 17, 2017 12:19pm

Nothing new here. Our education budget is frankly quite shameful and has been for the longest time.

Iqbal Hadi Zaidi Feb 17, 2017 12:35pm

Thank the government that some funds are allocated to education but if nothing is given then what one can do, I dare ask? Why we always criticize and think negatively? Iqbal Hadi Zaidi / Kuwait

Sheraz Feb 17, 2017 12:34pm

Connectivity, roads, infrastructure development will lead creating more jobs thus uplifting the lives of common man and will eventually enable common man to educate his children..patwaari mantra...on the other hand, IK's philosophy is exactly opposite to the above mantraaa....

Saif zulfiqar Feb 17, 2017 12:36pm

It is easy for the politicians to make money from the type of Orange Line projects

Dr. SalariA, Aamir Ahmad Feb 17, 2017 12:43pm

And all the steel used in these on-going as well as completed multi billion dollar projects stems from the famous and historic Iteefaq group.

What else is called nepotism and favoritism?

Who cares for "conflict of interest" in the land of the pure?

Abe Feb 17, 2017 12:52pm

That's PML-N for you.

Fool and Rule, as long as people remain idiots and illiterate,so they will gladly vote for you after hearing some empty promises, a little Bahngra dance and some free biryani at a rally - and the seat is yours for next five years.

Only in Punjab? PPP in Singh is even worse. It cannot even administer Karachi or organize garbage collection,yet spends more on Security for its leadership than garbage trucks. What can we say, the trucks are seemingly already full of....

Dynamite Feb 17, 2017 01:03pm

travel in Orange Line and gain knowledge...the old saying "Travel makes a man wise"

Iqbal khan Feb 17, 2017 01:06pm

Alas! Who can make understand these Sharifs to please spend money on people rather than on steel and concrete to develop the country in real sense.

Amarnath Feb 17, 2017 01:29pm

That is a reason to worry.

Pseudo Feb 17, 2017 01:33pm

Orange line train is Chinese investment loan not a social sector program. These people should now the difference.

Skkk Feb 17, 2017 01:59pm

Very relevant comments from a fantastic personality.

Feroz Feb 17, 2017 02:28pm

Investment in quality education is the only way a country proves its most precious commodity is its human resource.

Falcon1 Feb 17, 2017 03:01pm

The answer to this sad state of affairs is very simple: Had the people of the country been educated and smart, they would not have voted for any of the parties who managed to come to power over the past 40 years.

So, keep them stupid, and win their votes!

pakman Feb 17, 2017 03:11pm

Mega projects have kick back, so education and funding in social sector suffers.

ABE Feb 17, 2017 03:33pm

You need Metros to keep people happy, who are only too eager to ride the fancy buses, going nowhere in particular, while chatting on the smartphones, listening to music, watching trashy videos and wasting their lives away.

The priority of PML-N government seems to be keep the people ignorant, uninformed, uneducated and unintelligent - as long as they are happy with malls, metros and motorways.

Those who are able to THINK, cannot stand the paindoo mindset of PML-N cabal, simply pack up and leave. That's how they intend to stay in power.

Kedar Feb 17, 2017 03:49pm

Remember India's 104 satellites day before yesterday...that's the result of spending on right priorities...

kerala Feb 17, 2017 04:38pm

@ABE Finally a sane voice among all comments.

Ali Feb 17, 2017 07:45pm

Yes, but building Orange Line in one time expense. Such infrastructure is vital for development. Education budget is on going expense, even the amount allocated for it is misused by ghost schools and fake teachers? Such corruption must be rooted out first. The people demand "accountability" of every rupee spent by the government.

M K Sufi Feb 17, 2017 08:38pm

Pakistan should capitalize on its manpower and its natural resources. Our is agricultural Country. Over 60 % of the population lives in the rural area. More stress should be on getting better agricultural yield. Australia, Denmark, Holland etc. are large exporter of diary products. Holland has a booming business of Tulip flowers. A reliable transportation system is essential to achieve socio-economic progress.

Naeem Feb 17, 2017 08:40pm

NS government is not interested in education and healthcare. They want mega project to skim some money. Real progress only come through education.

Let us start a grass root movement. "Every Pakistani educate a Pakistani"

M K Sufi Feb 17, 2017 08:38pm

@Ali Agreed. so correct.

Houlbelat Feb 17, 2017 08:57pm

Rapid and reliable transport is the backbone of every development effort. Imagine the life in London without its underground trains.

Niaz Hussain Ghumro Feb 18, 2017 09:35am

Dr Atta ur Rehman ois our real hero and builder of the nation including youth. His talks are source of inspiration for the youth generation. I pray for his ling life and prosperity so that he may serve our country more and more.......