ISLAMABAD-Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Professor Ahsan Iqbal on Wednesday urged the private sector to utilize the Research and Development (R&D) services and expertise of universities for their businesses’ technological advancement to compete in international markets.
“I urge the private sector to collaborate with universities in all technological advancements to get the benefit of their R&D labs to meet international standards and increase the country’s exports,” he said addressing the launching ceremony of the Venture Capital Fund (VCF).
The minister said Rs 5 billion had been allocated under the initiative aimed at creating a conducive environment for the promotion of investment in digital technology. “Pakistan’s future depends on matching the pace of digital technology.”
The minister urged for establishing industry-academia linkages with private sector universities paving the way for development through applied research, adding development was not possible without increasing exports.
Highlighting the importance of producing quality and skilled human resources in achieving national prosperity and development goals, the minister said the incumbent government increased the development budget of the Higher Education Commission (HEC) from Rs26 billion to Rs70 billion, which was almost 135 per cent unprecedented hike.
Making a comparison, Ahsan Iqbal said the tertiary education rate in the world stood at around 40 per cent, India at 31 per cent, Bangladesh at 25 per cent and Pakistan, unfortunately, stand at 13 per cent only.
“We have to impart higher education to our youth besides equipping them with technological advancements,” he said while declaring the country’s ‘youth a ‘nuclear asset’ in the economic field.
The minister said the country had the potential to become one of the leading and fastest-growing economies in the world in 10-15 years by ensuring peace, stability, and continuity of policies. “No country in the world has attained success in development without a decade of stability.”
Recounting the government’s initiatives to match the technological changes taking place in the world, he said it established national centres for artificial intelligence, cyber security, big data cloud computing, automation and robotics.
Besides, the minister said, a national centre for quantum computing had been set up laying a ‘future foundation’ for information technology infrastructure to contest the development pace at the international level.
Addressing the vital issue of population growth, Ahsan Iqbal cautioned against the dangers of resource depletion and underscored the necessity of responsible development. He urged Pakistanis to base their decisions on the realities of the physical world rather than succumbing to manipulation through data science and social media.
In closing remarks, the minister encapsulated Pakistan’s path to becoming an economic powerhouse. “Our journey to development is grounded in reality, not fiction. Each Pakistani must subscribe to the vision of an economically powerful Pakistan built upon genuine progress and purpose.”
In her address, Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Youth Affairs Shaza Fatima Khawaja acknowledged the visionary leadership of Minister Ahsan Iqbal, underscoring his unwavering dedication to the Planning Ministry’s goals, especially the ambitious Vision2025.
“In an extraordinarily short span of time, we have convened under the remarkable leadership of Ahsan Sahib. His steadfast commitment to Vision-2025 has been nothing short of inspirational,” the SAPM said. Commenting on the VCF, she said this approach entailed the creation of an “idea fund for funds,” designed to incentivize both local and international private sector venture capital firms to invest in Pakistani start-ups.
“The vision extends to attracting venture capital firms to establish offices and operations within Pakistan, leveraging public funds to catalyze startup investments.”
Shaza Fatima Khawaja extended a warm invitation to foreign investors interested in contributing to Pakistani start-ups or launching their own ventures.
She urged all stakeholders to leverage their expertise and capacities to propel the program forward, expressing her unwavering confidence in their ability to navigate the journey and realize the ambitious goals set forth.