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ISSI hosts Public Talk on “Pakistan’s Opportunity for Science Diplomacy in South Asia”

ISSI hosts Public Talk on "Pakistan's Opportunity for Science Diplomacy in South Asia"

ISLAMABAD, MAR 1 /DNA/ – The Centre for Strategic Perspectives (CSP) at the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad (ISSI) hosted a public talk, titled “Pakistan’s Opportunity for Science Diplomacy in South Asia” on March 01, 2024. Dr. Saleem H. Ali, Chair, Department of Geography, University of Delaware, USA was the keynote speaker. The talk provided significant insights into the opportunities available for Pakistan to conduct successful and effective Science Diplomacy, including in the South Asian region. Featuring as Discussant, Additional Secretary (PP/ACDIS) Mr. Kamran Akhtar highlighted the progress made by Pakistan within the context of the Ministry of Foreign Affair’s; Science Diplomacy initiative.

Director CSP, Dr. Neelum Nigar, welcomed the participants to the discussion, underscoring the subject’s significance for the region.
In his welcome remarks, DG ISSI Ambassador Sohail Mahmood highlighted the importance of Science Diplomacy (SD) in today’s interconnected world and lauded the Foreign Office’s SD initiative which served as a key platform for facilitating the inter-face between the national science & technology stakeholders and international partners. He noted that this was helping to foster beneficial collaboration on key areas of focus with the relevant institutions, international organisations, and countries. Pakistan was also leveraging Science Diplomacy to implement SDGs.
Ambassador Sohail Mahmood added that science diplomacy in South Asia offers the chance to address common environmental challenges and help enhance technological innovation and economic growth. Collaborative research and development projects can lead to the creation of new technologies, improved infrastructure, and increased scientific capacity in the region.

Dr. Saleem H. Ali delivered a compelling presentation in which he 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 endeavours on a global scale, not just within South Asia.

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

Dr. Ali’s vision for Pakistan’s role in science diplomacy encompassed a proactive stance in international forums, the 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 international cooperation and progress.
The discussion additional depth through the valuable insights shared by Additional Secretary Kamran Akhtar, and Mr. Muhammad Adeel, representing the Embassy of Pakistan in Brussels. Mr. Akhtar provided a detailed overview of Pakistan’s active involvement in various international scientific initiatives, notably the EU’s Science for Diplomacy (S4D) initiative, outreach to the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), and the establishment of strategic university linkages geared towards fostering collaboration among the developing countries (south-south cooperation).

He highlighted Pakistan’s commitment to showcasing the myriad dimensions if its scientific programs, underscoring the country’s dedication to utilizing science for peaceful and developmental purposes. Mr. Akhtar’s 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 Memorandum of Understanding (MoUs) within international educational institutions, the expansion of science scholarships, and establishment of science diplomacy focal points in Pakistani missions abroad.

The event concluded with remarks by Chairman BOG ISSI Ambassador Khalid Mahmood. He underscored the need to enhance the role of science in diplomacy, emphasizing its potential to contribute to a different international image of Pakistan. Ambassador Khalid Mahmood highlighted 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 senior representatives of COMSTECH and COMSATS, academics, practitioners, and students.

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