Brussels, 22 February 2002
The President of Pakistan, General Pervez Musharraf has urged Islamic governments to invest more in science and technology, quoting EU Member States as positive examples.
Speaking at the opening of a meeting of a science and technology conference attended by ministers from Muslim countries, General Musharraf called for the creation of a multi-billion dollar fund for research and development, to fund, amongst other activities, more scholarships allowing gifted students to study abroad and return with the skills needed to raise their countries out of poverty. Further research funding is necessary in order to compete with the developed world, said General Musharraf, who criticised Muslim nations for their underachievement in science.
'Today we are the poorest, most illiterate, most backward, most unhealthy, the most un-enlightened, the most deprived, and the weakest of all the human race,' said General Musharraf. He suggested the reason for this disparity with the West to be a failure to address educational and scientific development adequately.
The President cited Germany and the UK as being way ahead of Pakistan and other Islamic nations in scientific achievement. He pointed out that the collective gross domestic product (GDP) for Islamic countries is $1,200 billion (1,379 billion euro), which is only slightly higher than that of Germany. He also highlighted the different approach to scientific centres of excellence in Islamic countries and the West, saying that whereas there are only 430 universities in Islamic countries, producing only 500 PhDs per year, the UK alone boasts 3,000 PhDs every year.
General Musharraf announced that his Minister for science and technology, Dr Attaur Rehman, will soon visit a number of Islamic countries in order to try to involve the Heads of States in the effort to promote science and technology. Pakistan also agreed a cooperation agreement with Oman, which will see enhanced cooperation in the fields of information technology and scientific research.