H.E. Dr. M. Azam Khan Swati, Federal Minister for Science andTechnology, Government of Pakistan, paid a visit to the Secretariat of Commission on Science and Technology for Sustainable Development in the South (COMSATS), on 20th May 2009, for a briefing on the Commission’s recent programmes. He was received by the Executive Director COMSATS, Dr. Imtinan Elahi Qureshi, alongwith other high-level officials.
The Executive Director introduced COMSATS as the only inter-governmental organization (IGO) of its kind, based in Pakistan. He explicated the role it plays in the promotion of scientific cooperation among its member countries for socio-economic development of the South. The Minister was informed that the organization also undertakes consultancy for S&T policies and advocates higher level of spending on R&D for achieving economic development in a highly competitive world. COMSATS performs its functions through three major organs namely: the Commission; the Consultative Committee, and the Coordinating Council.
Dr. Qureshi apprised the Federal Minister about the proceedings and outcomes of the two COMSATS’ international meetings, recently held in Abuja, Nigeria. Giving details of the meetings, he informed that the 1st Consultative Committee Meeting was organized in conjunction with the 12th Coordinating Council Meeting, in light of the agreement between Ministry of S&T, Government of Pakistan and the host institution, the National Mathematical Centre (NMC) of Nigeria.
The two meetings were jointly inaugurated by the Federal Minister for Education of Nigeria, Dr. Sam O. Egwu, who highlighted the important role that COMSATS can play in bringing about sustainable development in the countries of the South by creating new ideas and strategies based on science and technology. In addition to senior government officials and diplomats, over 100 participants from scientific organizations, universities, and R&D institutions of Nigeria attended the ceremony that was covered by the local and international press and electronic media.
The Federal Minister was informed that the 1st ConsultativeCommittee Meeting was held on 27th April 2009, under the chairmanship of Federal Secretary, Ministry of Science and Technology, Government of Pakistan, Mr. Muhammad Kashif Murtaza. The Committee comprises high-level officials from government departments/ministries that are regarded as Focal Points in the member states. Representatives from COMSATS Focal Points in Egypt, Ghana, Iran, Jamaica, Nigeria, Pakistan, Senegal, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda and Zimbabwe attended the meeting. During the proceedings of the meetings, country statements were presented by the delegates that conveyed their respective governments’ stance on S&T led sustainable development. These statements particularly shed light on improving the general policy of the COMSATS’ Network of Centres of Excellence, gave useful recommendations to improve the scientific capacities and reflected upon developing means to strengthen synergies among COMSATS’ Focal Points and the Centres of Excellence.
Moreover, the Federal Minister was informed that subsequent to the 1st Consultative Committee Meeting, the 12th Coordinating Council Meeting was held on 28th and 29th April 2009. The highlight of the Council meeting was that it reviewed the composition and terms of reference of COMSATS’ Management Committee, discussed the re-constitution of its Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) and took key decisions on other important technical, administrative and financial matters. The meeting that was chaired by Director General NMC, Prof. Dr. Sam O. Ale was attended by the heads or the representatives of eight out of 16 COMSATS’ Centres of Excellence.
During the briefing, the Executive Director noted that the deliberations of the meetings paved way to create linkages among COMSATS’ Focal Points and the Centres of Excellence, which are essential to implement COMSATS’ programmes and activities in the member countries. The major recommendations of the Consultative Committee Meeting were highlighted that stressed the need for identification and prioritization of the needs of the member countries, multilateral cooperation programmes and designing appropriate technical and economic work plans aimed at the socio-economic uplift of the marginalized communities, besides the voluntary financial and technical support for COMSATS from the member countries. After the briefing, the Federal Minister commended the Executive Director COMSATS on successfully organizing the two international meetings in Nigeria.
The Federal Minister was shown various departments and sections of COMSATS Secretariat during his visit. While inspecting the tele-health unit, he complimented the healthcare services being provided by COMSATS Secretariat to the remote and marginalized Northern Areas of Pakistan. Moreover, the Federal Minister was apprised about the tele-health project that COMSATS Secretariat is about to introduce in NWFP. In this regard, COMSATS Secretariat has recently submitted Project Concept-1 (PC-1) to the Government of NWFP. The Federal Minister also paid a visit to head office of COMSATS Internet Services (CIS), located in the premises of COMSATS Secretariat building and appreciated their efforts for providing quality Internet services in the major cities of the country.