Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has heaped praise on Pakistan’s ‘brilliant’ scientists and engineers who are building the country’s positive image abroad.
He was talking on Saturday to a group of Pakistani students and experts at Cern – the European Organisation for Nuclear Research – located along the Franco-Swiss border.
This was the first visit of a Pakistani head of government to the top scientific research organisation.
The prime minister said Pakistan considered it a matter of immense pride to have become an associate member of Cern last year, especially as it was the first non-European country to have achieved this distinction. On July 31, 2015, Pakistan became an associate member of Cern.
“Our associate membership of Cern is recognition of the achievements of our scientists, engineers and technicians,” the premier added.
He said Pakistan and Cern had been collaborating since 1994, and have carried out a number of successful projects involving sophisticated technologies and precision engineering.
“The membership of Pakistan has opened a new era of cooperation that will strengthen long-term partnership between Cern and the Pakistani scientific community.
The prime minister was informed that the membership would allow Pakistani scientists to become members of the Cern staff, participate in Cern’s training and career-development programmes and Cern Council. It would also allow Pakistani industry to bid for Cern contracts, opening opportunities for industrial collaboration in areas of advanced technology.
Cern Director General Fabiola Gianotti said Pakistan had a long history of research in elementary particle physics and had produced renowned scientists in this field, including the Nobel laureate Dr Abdus Salam.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said the nation was proud of Dr Salam. “He was a great Pakistani, the pride of country who brought good name to Pakistan and we are proud of him,” Nawaz said.
He visited the CMS (Compact Muon S) – the largest particle collider in the world that was part of the 27 km long Large Hadron Collider (LHC) – and witnessed the huge 14,000 tons heavy outer and inner shields built by the Heavy Mechanical Complex Taxila.
“His visit to Cern was a re-affirmation of his government’s strong commitment to promotion of science and technology in Pakistan,” Pakistan’s Ambassador to the UN Mission Tehmina Janjua told APP.
Waqar Ahmad, Minister Technical at the Permanent Mission of Pakistan to the IAEA, said membership for Pakistan was a great honour. He said apart from capacity building, it would open up Pakistan’s private and public sectors to bid for provision of precision equipment for Cern. “It would raise Pakistan’s stature at international scientific scene as provider of precision equipment.”
Founded in 1954, Cern laboratory is one of Europe’s first joint ventures and now has 21 member states.
Pakistan and Cern signed a cooperation agreement in1994. The signature of several protocols followed this agreement, and Pakistan contributed to building the CMS and ATLAS experiments. Pakistan contributes today to the ALICE and CMS experiments.
Pakistan has supplied equipment since 2003 to support Cern programmes. Pakistan’ Heavy Mechanical Complex-3 (HMC-3) won a Cern award for best industrial partner in 2006. The country is also involved in accelerator developments, making it an important partner for Cern. The LHC and CMS projects were also built in collaboration with Pakistani scientists. The country is also part of the grid network that allows its scientists analyse data generated at the Cern.
Talking to a private TV channel before his departure for Geneva from Davos, the prime minister said the world leaders acknowledged the economic strides made by Pakistan and have a very positive image about its economy.
“I get the chance to interact with various heads of states and governments and they all appreciated the economic policies and economic turnaround in Pakistan,” he added. He referred to the World Economic Forum Chairman Professor Klaus Schwab, who lauded his government’s economic policies.
“Our government is providing equal opportunities to the womenfolk in all fields of life, whereas fifty per cent quota is allocated for them in the youth loan scheme,” he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 24th, 2016.