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ISLAMABAD, Jan 11: Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on Tuesday urged the Muslim Ummah to join hands in initiating projects in the fields of science and technology to meet the challenges of 21st century.

The prime minister was addressing the inaugural session of the 14th General Assembly meeting of the OIC Standing Committee on Scientific and Technological Cooperation (Comstech) here at the Jinnah Convention Centre.

The two-day general assembly meeting will study a number of scientific projects including a mega project initiative that aims at pooling diverse capabilities, resources and expertise of the member states of the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC).

During the address the prime minister said: “We live in an age of scientific innovations and technological advancement. In the knowledge based societies of the 21st century only those nations could aspire to lead which excel in science and technology.”

He recalled the contributions of the Muslim scholars who were the pioneers in the field of science and medicine for 600 years, and regretted that the glorious period of creative scientific activity ceased as the Islamic Ummah lost the intellectual leadership.

He said despite enormous human and material resources, the Muslim world still counted amongst the backward due to lack of scientific and technological advancement.

“We must build our human capital and invest in science and technology to catch up with rest of the world,” he said.

The prime minister appreciated Comstech for shouldering the responsibilities to help OIC member countries in promoting a culture of research and innovation in science and technology.

He mentioned several important developments under the umbrella of the Comstech including bringing in its fold all the science and technology institutions of the OIC to function as one whole body, which, he said, would coordinate efforts for the promotion of science and technology.

Mr Gilani said he would like Coordinator General of the Comstech Prof Attaur Rahman to prepare policy guidelines in consultation with the OIC General Secretariat and under the overall supervision of the Comstech executive committee to translate decisions of Comstech General Assembly into reality.

He proposed holding a meeting of science and technology stakeholders of the OIC system in Pakistan before August 2011 and asked the Ministry of Science and Technology to make necessary arrangements for this meeting in Islamabad.

He mentioned that the funding of science and technology programmes had borne fruit with the operationlisation of Science Technology Innovation Organisation (STIO) at a meeting in Riyadh in February, 2010.

Gilani said with a clearly defined mandate to act as implementing arm of Comstech, STIO would be crucial in promoting science and technology. — APP