Linking knowledge with socio-economic development is the only way forward to putting the country on track to progress and prosperity as traditional approaches of economic growth are waning rapidly around the globe.

The proportion of hi-tech products is increasing in world trade, but Pakistan’s share in the products is insignificant. The country needs to acquire competence in several technologies including aerodynamics, thermal imaging, precision manufacturing, computational fluid dynamics, industrial design and testing etc.

It is only if we arm ourself with right knowledge and skills that can improve our living standards and provide a decent future to our children.

The increasing ratio of export of hi-tech manufacturing products has outdated selling of natural resources, agro-goods, minerals and raw materials at foreign lands, especially by the most advanced and fast developing economies of the world.

Some of these nations, such as Singapore, were facing the scarcity of natural resources, but they managed to increase their overall exports to $450 billion annually by focusing on the products compared to $30 billion from Pakistan with a population of 40 times greater than that of Singapore.

Huge money lies in high technology products and the countries that have realized this have invested heavily in knowledge-based economies leading to the manufacture and exports of electronics, pharmaceuticals, engineering goods, biotech products, computers,

software, automobiles, aircraft, defense equipment, alternative energy products, engineering goods, house hold appliances, steel, ship building, and many more. However, such items requiring highly specialized skills and world class research centers, says former

federal minister for education and chairman Higher Education Commission (HEC) Dr. Atta-ur-Rehman while expressing his views on the issue.

Referring to certain countries such as Ireland and China, he pointed out that economies of these countries have witnessed significant transformation with the help of information communication technologies (ICT). The intrinsic cross-cutting nature of ICT is resulting in improved productivity in industry and agriculture and it is creating huge new opportunities for businesses around the world, he added.

Principal Scientific Officer, Pakistan Science Foundation, Dr. Mirza Habib Ali also said the biotechnology has emerged in recent years as a powerful medium for socio-economic development such as recombinant vaccines, vaccines in drug delivery, molecular diagnostics, bioremediation, sequencing of genomes, bioinformatics development, genetically modified crops, recombinant therapeutic proteins etc.

He said that nanotechnology is also leading in development of new materials

in industrial sectors for electronics, automobiles, engineering, polymer, plastic, textile, construction, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, health applications (diagnostic tools, drug and vaccine delivery, surgical devices, treatment of various diseases, and detection of different pathogens), purification, sanitation, recycling and remediation of water. The nanotechnology is used in renewable energy through the development of solar cells, hydrogen fuel cells, nano-photovoltaic devices, and carbon nanotubes.

Our industrial and trade policies must encourage local technology firms and engineering enterprises, through continuous upgrading of technology and skills and access to market small industry must be encouraged to convert into medium sized ones and medium sized industry into large one, Dr. Mirza maintained.

He said, Agriculture represents the backbone of the country’s economy. It can serve as a launching pad for transition to knowledge-based economy, as it has a huge potential for revenue generation, only if agricultural practices are carried out on scientific lines, and use of technology is maximized.

Dr. Mirza said Information technology, biotechnology, communication technologies, renewable energy, material sciences and health sciences, are also rapidly changing the face of the globe, leading several countries on the path of social and economic development, leaving others for behind. He said, The annual budget of Finland only for the Nokia Mobile Phone is more than the whole budget of Pakistan.

Speaking about the 134th ranking of Pakistan out of 143 countries in research and development (R and D), the spokesperson of Ministry of Science and Technology Khalid Siddique said the dream of hi-tech products exports could only be realized if R and D organizations are strengthened. He said only 0.29% is allocated for R and D, which should be increased to at least 1% of the GDP. Without good financial support, the research organizations would not be able to perform well, he added.