Why Pakistan Needs to Rethink Its Priorities in Science and Technology

02:48 PM | 31 Jan, 2023
Why Pakistan Needs to Rethink Its Priorities in Science and Technology

As the world hurtles towards the fourth industrial revolution (4IR), countries are scrambling to position themselves to take advantage of the opportunities it presents. This is in contrast to what's happening in Pakistan in the same realm.

Despite having the potential to become a leader in science and technology due to the youth bulge, the country is currently falling behind in research and development (R&D) and has a low level of investment in these areas. This is compounded by an education system that is not effectively preparing students for careers in Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).

According to McKinsey, the metaverse alone has the potential to generate $5 trillion in value by 2030, and the internet of things (IoT) is expected to have an impact of $12.6 trillion.

But the statistics above might not be able to help Pakistan in terms of economy as Pakistan requires strong coordination between academia, industry, investors, and regulatory bodies to reap the benefits of the industrial revolution and the Internet of Things (IoT).

Although the country is lagging behind in science overall, one particular area is important which is space science and technology research. In 1962, Pakistan became the first country in the region to send a rocket into the upper atmosphere, with the launch of the Rehbar rocket. But today, the country relies on other nations to build and send its rockets, despite having a missile technology base developed due to security threats. This is in addition to the fact that there are no notable institutes regarding Space Science. The Institute of Space Technology (IST) Islamabad appears as an exception in this regard but the decision makers seem to be turning a blind eye to advancement in this area.

As the rest of the world sends probes to the edge of our solar system, sends missions to Mars, and explores the moons of Saturn, Pakistan is failing to find its footing in space science and technology research. This is a missed opportunity, as the spin-off technologies produced by space science and technology research often turn into multi-billion dollar economic opportunities. Technologies like WiFi, advancements in cellular networks & internet technologies, renewable energy, imaging technologies & applications in healthcare, and advanced materials are some of the gifts of R&D in space science and technology.

If we can plot the efforts made by Pakistan as a country regarding space research against the efforts made by a single man, Elon Musk and his private firm SpaceX, we will be ashamed. Let me also quote the budget allocated by NASA in this regard which comes out to be $25.4 billion for 2023. What if you are told that Pakistan hardly spends around 2 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on education. If the spending on education is that less, what can be said about the specific spending in terms of space research. 

The budget allocation for space research can be ascertained from the fact that the government allocated Rs. 7.3951 billion for Pakistan Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission (SUPARCO) in PSDP 2022-2023. Dare I compare it with the budget of NASA, I better not. 

The deplorable state is not confined to space only as the same can be said for other areas such as particle physics and other big and fundamental science areas. These fields provide opportunities to challenge ourselves and help our civilization achieve its true potential. But in Pakistan, progress in these areas is seriously lagging behind. Biotechnology, quantum computing, smart materials, semiconductors, and nanotechnology are just a few more examples of areas where Pakistan is falling behind and we need to fix this situation both with a budget and by promoting an entrepreneurial ecosystem. 

For Pakistan to become a leader in science and technology, it needs to make R&D and education in these areas a priority. The last century saw enormous developments in the fields of fundamental sciences and their applications, which helped countries rapidly develop their potential in the industry, medical sciences, defense, space, and many other sectors. Countries that made science and technology R&D and education a priority emerged as stronger nations compared to those who relied on agriculture and natural resources.

In this regard, facilities like National Science and Technology Park (NSTP) can serve as the nerve center for research related to science and technology without any prejudice to educational institutes and universities. What can be done in this regard is to provide tax incentives to the start-ups making strides in space technology. I would again quote that SpaceX, the brainchild of Elon Musk was once a start up but it is now a billion-dollar company thinking to colonize Mars.   

It's time for Pakistan to seriously rethink its priorities and make a change. The only way to make us special compared to other species on Earth is to challenge our thinking ability to learn, explore, and discover. Unfortunately, Pakistan is losing this special capacity day by day.

The country must invest in R&D, improve its education system, build academia-industry linkages and create a supportive environment for innovation if it hopes to become a developed nation and take advantage of the opportunities presented by the 4IR, space sciences, and other key areas of the 21st century.


Pakistani rupee sees marginal decline against US Dollar, Euro, Dirham, & Riyal; check forex rates

Pakistani rupee witnessed marginal losses against US dollar, and other currencies in the open market.

Dollar Rate in Pakistan Today

On Wednesday, the dollar was being quoted at 285.6 for selling and 288.65 for buying purposes.

Euro price stands at 312 for buying and 315 for selling. British Pound rate stands at 360 for buying, and 363 for selling.

UAE Dirham AED stands at 78.25 whereas the Saudi Riyal also witnessed fall and new price stands at 76.25.

Today's currency exchange rates in Pakistan - 29 November 2023

Currency Symbol Buying Selling
US Dollar ‎USD 285.6  288.65 
Euro EUR 312  315 
UK Pound Sterling GBP 360  363
U.A.E Dirham AED 78.25  79
Saudi Riyal SAR 76.25 77.25
Australian Dollar AUD 187.2 189
Bahrain Dinar BHD 750.11 758.11
Canadian Dollar CAD 209 211
China Yuan CNY 39.58 39.98
Danish Krone DKK 41.38 41.78
Hong Kong Dollar HKD 36.24 36.59
Indian Rupee INR 3.39 3.5
Japanese Yen JPY 1.55 1.63
Kuwaiti Dinar KWD 914.36 923.36
Malaysian Ringgit MYR 60.38 60.98
New Zealand Dollar NZD 173.44 175.44
Norwegians Krone NOK 26.25 26.55
Omani Riyal OMR 741.26 749.26
Qatari Riyal ‎QAR 77.63 78.33
Singapore Dollar SGD 211 213
Swedish Korona SEK 26.93 27.23
Swiss Franc CHF 320.1 322.6
Thai Bhat THB 8.01 8.16

Gold rates see big increase in Pakistan; Check today gold price here

KARACHI – The gold price moved up down in the local market in line with massive increase in international market.

Gold Rates in Pakistan Today - 29 November 2023

On Wednesday, the single tola of 24 Karat gold was available at Rs218,000, and the price for 10-gram gold saw an increase of Rs943 to reach Rs186,900.

Meanwhile, the 22 Karat Gold price stands at Rs199,830, 21 karat rate for each tola is Rs190,750 and 18k gold rate hoveres around Rs163,500.00.

In international market, the price of precious metal went up by $29 to settle at $2,044 per ounce.

Today Gold Rate in Pakistan

City Gold Silver
Lahore PKR 218,000 PKR 2,610
Karachi PKR 218,000 PKR 2,610
Islamabad PKR 218,000 PKR 2,610
Peshawar PKR 218,000 PKR 2,610
Quetta PKR 218,000 PKR 2,610
Sialkot PKR 218,000 PKR 2,610
Attock PKR 218,000 PKR 2,610
Gujranwala PKR 218,000 PKR 2,610
Jehlum PKR 218,000 PKR 2,610
Multan PKR 218,000 PKR 2,610
Bahawalpur PKR 218,000 PKR 2,610
Gujrat PKR 218,000 PKR 2,610
Nawabshah PKR 218,000 PKR 2,610
Chakwal PKR 218,000 PKR 2,610
Hyderabad PKR 218,000 PKR 2,610
Nowshehra PKR 218,000 PKR 2,610
Sargodha PKR 218,000 PKR 2,610
Faisalabad PKR 218,000 PKR 2,610
Mirpur PKR 218,000 PKR 2,610


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