Source: United States-Pakistan First Joint Committee Meeting on Science and Technology Joint Statement
Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs
March 24, 2007
The United States-Pakistan Joint Committee on Science and Technology held its first joint committee meeting (JCM) on February 13-14, 2007, in the United States at the National Science Foundation (NSF) headquarters in Arlington, Virginia. The Honorable Paula Dobriansky, Under Secretary for Democracy and Global Affairs of the U.S. Department of State and the Honorable Mahmud Ali Durrani, Ambassador of Pakistan to the United States, opened the meeting with welcoming remarks. Dr. Arden L. Bement, Director of the NSF, who led the U.S. delegation, was joined by Dr. Atta-ur-Rahman, Federal Minister/Chairman Higher Education Commission and Adviser to the Prime Minister on Science & Technology for the Government of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, who led the Pakistani delegation.
The Joint Committee is composed of representatives from U.S. and Pakistani science and technology (S&T) focused government agencies. Also in attendance as observers were representatives from the United States-Pakistan Business Council and the Organization of Pakistani Entrepreneurs of North America. The presence of business representatives at the JCM underscores the importance that the United States and Pakistan place on using entrepreneurial partnerships as a means of sustaining and expanding S&T capacity building in Pakistan.
The Joint Committee on Science and Technology was created under the framework of the Agreement on Science and Technology Cooperation signed by the United States and Pakistan in June 2003. The agreement is an element of the Pakistan-United States Strategic Partnership affirmed by President Musharraf and President Bush in March 2006. The Committee’s purpose is to enhance cooperation in areas of science and technology, higher education and engineering, and to strengthen the capacity of education, research, and innovation between United States and Pakistani institutions of higher education and research establishments. The Joint Committee is also mandated to enable innovative, entrepreneurial partnerships between the two countries’ respective S&T business communities.
The Committee agreed to cooperate in a range of areas including such fields as: agriculture, including life sciences, nutrition, and food safety; research training in basic sciences; information technology; computer sciences and engineering; health, including public health, nursing and paramedical support and telemedicine. The Committee acknowledged that strengthened cooperation between both countries is best achieved through educational exchange and training programs, and enhanced linkages between United States and Pakistan. Linkages among higher education institutions and potential business partners will foster greater interaction and understanding between the S&T communities of the two countries.
The United States will continue to facilitate the professional development of Pakistan’s higher education sector through the expanded bilateral Fulbright Program for postgraduate level studies in U.S. institutions in a range of fields. Professional and academic exchanges including both U.S. government and non-governmental programs can assist in the development of Pakistan’s Institute of Advanced Technology. The Association of American Universities agreed to explore ways to work with the Higher Education Commission to assist in the establishment of a university of engineering, sciences, and technology in Pakistan. In the near future, the Government of Pakistan may consider placement of students at the Institute for Creativity and Capital (IC˛) at the University of Texas at Austin to undertake the Masters Program in commercialization of science and technology.
The Joint Committee agreed to aggressively pursue the linkage of institutions in Pakistan with counterpart institutions in the United States in such focus areas as veterinary sciences, genomics, oceanography, scientific and industrial research, electronics, natural history, training in measurement science and standards, chemical sciences, molecular medicine, and information technology.
Other agreed areas of scientific cooperation include the earth sciences, mapping studies and remote sensing, short-term training in minerals management, alternative energy, clean coal technology, urban studies and planning, and ways to stimulate and enable innovative, entrepreneurial partnerships. Nanotechnology and synchrotron/advanced light source science were also identified as areas for possible cooperation.
The United States and Pakistan will also seek opportunities to cooperate in areas such as strengthening the existing disease surveillance program in Pakistan and water resources management, including water quality monitoring. The two countries will also promote collaboration between the Global Change Impact Studies Center (GCISC) and U.S. agencies on the study of the changing condition of glaciers in Pakistan. The Joint Committee will explore ways to extend support for training scientists in earthquake studies and will promote cooperation between the Pakistan Center for Earthquake Studies and the National Earthquake Information Center (NEIC) in the United States. The two sides also agreed to develop cooperation in distance learning including expansion of a digital library program and introduction of high speed connectivity between the two countries.
The Joint Committee will establish working groups to identify programs and activities that will help cooperating entities to achieve the goals and objectives agreed upon by the Committee. During the meeting, the Joint Committee agreed that new initiatives could be undertaken in areas such as quality assurance and higher education; agriculture sciences; health sciences; engineering sciences; university linkages; promoting innovative entrepreneurial partnerships; environmental sciences; physical sciences; basic sciences; standards, metrology and accreditation, and accessing computing grids and high-end computation.
A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on cooperation in the field of agriculture was signed during the meeting by Dr. Atta-ur-Rahman and Dr. Gale A. Buchanan, Under Secretary for Research, Education, and Economics of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The MOU aims to help strengthen cooperation between the two sides in areas such as animal science, soil science, agronomy, natural resources management, aquaculture, and other fields.
The next JCM will take place in Pakistan in 2009, while Committees, Subcommittees, and Working Groups work together and correspond as needed during the interim to meet their shared goals.