Pakistan hits bottom in innovation ranking

Published: February 19, 2016
Ministry blames low spending and poor state of science education. PHOTO: REUTERS

Ministry blames low spending and poor state of science education. PHOTO: REUTERS

Ministry blames low spending and poor state of science education. PHOTO: REUTERS PHOTO: AFP

ISLAMABAD: The Ministry of Science and Technology stated in a written reply to the National Assembly (NA) that less than two per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is being spent on research and development. The reply further stated that this fact along with the low standards of science education in our educational institutions is the prime reason why Pakistan has been ranked 131 out of 141 countries in the Global Innovation Index (GII) 2015.

The GII survey is an annual ranking of the world economies’ innovation capabilities and results. It is co-published by Cornell University, INSEAD and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).

Largest offline populations: India tops list, Pakistan fourth, says World Bank report

The ministry of science and technology submitted the written reply in the NA on Thursday to answer a query regarding the rankings raised by MNA Dawar Khan Kundi. He had also asked about the steps the ministry was taking to improve the situation.

The ministry concurred with the rankings and stated various reasons for the country’s dismal performance in this sector.

“Historically, allocations for research and development expenditure have always remained low,” the reply stated, adding that the current allocation is only 0.29% of GDP, which is far below world average as most developed countries spend between 2–4% of their GDP on research. A total number of 60,699 researchers are working in Pakistan with only 10,670 PhDs which “is very low as compared to developed countries,” the reply stated.

Similarly, the ministry reply also stated that the low standard of science education in schools and colleges was due to a lack of laboratory facilities, competent science teachers and “very low investment by the private sector in research and development.”

Pakistan slides 3 spots on prosperity index

The Ministry claimed however that several steps have been taken for the development of science and technology in the country. Accordingly, it has devised the ‘Science and Technology Strategy 2014-2018’ for rapid development in the field.

The ministry stated that it had also conducted foresight studies in 11 areas and disseminated them among stakeholders. These areas of research and development included Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs), energy, industry, education, health, agriculture, environment, electronics, water, biotechnology and nanotechnology.

The ministry also claimed that the present government had taken several steps to encourage scientists and researchers including civil awards in the category of science and technology, research productivity awards and increase in PhD allowances. Similarly, the government had accelerated the promotion for scientists and researchers working in the ministry’s research organisations. The ministry also stated that it was contemplating a proposal for granting special pay scales for scientists and researchers working under the ministry to stem brain drain.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 19th, 2016.

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Reader Comments (44)

  • SK
    Feb 19, 2016 - 8:49AM

    why is it even a news, its a known fact and out in the open. When nation doesn’t spend on its young ones, it can’t expect them to explore new ideasRecommend

  • Brainy Bhaijan
    Feb 19, 2016 - 8:55AM

    Oh wow…it comes as such a surprise to everyone because I always believed that Pakistan was a world leader in scientific inventions and innovative breakthroughs.
    I should call my local area molvi saab for further guidance on learning logic and science.Recommend

  • SuperNeo
    Feb 19, 2016 - 9:11AM

    This survey is wrong, if you consider stolen and gifted innovations, paksitan will be number one in Innovations. also remember chinese JF-17, chinese drone ,Recommend

  • wiserneighbour
    Feb 19, 2016 - 9:13AM

    Why Pakistan should worry?As long as China is around,everything is taken care of!!Recommend

  • curious2
    Feb 19, 2016 - 9:25AM

    with only 10,670 PhDs

    For comparative purposes — USA produces about 50,000 research PhD’s a year – last census showed about 2.5 million PhD’s in the USA.Recommend

  • nauman
    Feb 19, 2016 - 9:38AM

    There are multiple reason why we have been at bottom of everything..
    1-No strong scientific and technical infrastructure
    2-No Diversity..society and culture is stagnant
    3-No investment on Young people
    4-No protection of Intellectual property rights
    5-No one is willing to take risk.. people are scared.. busy saving themselves…Recommend

  • Jameel ur Rasheed
    Feb 19, 2016 - 9:44AM

    Apparently, our research is restricted to miniaturization of nukes and development of weapons.Recommend

  • Rumormonger
    Feb 19, 2016 - 9:47AM

    Innovation in technology is a rare phenomenon. You see lots of it coming up but very few ideas survive and become known to the world. And Pakistan? What can you say… when the basic instinct of child to question everything to know about it is quashed at he very stage of development.Recommend

  • BSNews
    Feb 19, 2016 - 9:52AM

    They just said that because they hate Pakistan. I mean it’s ridiculous most of our scientist innovate outside of the country for International communities. Why is it that such efforts are ignored? We have tons of innovative scientists in foreign nations that worked in NASA, Hollywood, etc., but no ones takes note.Recommend

  • Imran Ahsan Mirza
    Feb 19, 2016 - 10:24AM

    @Brainy Bhaijan:
    So true. Pakistan has a restrictive environment for science and technology’s progress. The key reason is violent and narrow minded religiosity in society. Besides that the universities and industries do not collaborate any where, so there is neither quality nor pride in engineers to test marketability of their academic achievements. Furthermore Pakistan and Pakistanis are more proud of importing and using foreign goods. There is no effort to reverse this social suicidal evil. All these factors, despite Pakistan’s immense potentials, create an environment of suppression for innovation. Pakistan had disowned Dr Abdus Salam who otherwise wanted to establish cutting edge Theoretical Physics centre here in 1960s. Dr Ata Ur Rehman during Musharraf’s era played a great role in restoring our research status, but since PPP took over all was reversed. Darkness and ignorance are our fate, if you don’t like it move out of the country. Recommend

  • observer
    Feb 19, 2016 - 10:35AM

    This is biased data. Pakistan is very inventive. It invented the car that runs on water.Recommend

  • Wut
    Feb 19, 2016 - 10:40AM

    Strategic assets arent considered scientific innovations?Recommend

  • Haji Atiya
    Feb 19, 2016 - 11:30AM

    @Jameel ur Rasheed:
    True, we need to further focus on that niche because believe it or not, some of the great inventions and innovations were spurred by warfare or its threat. Thus, what is lacking from academia here, needs to be taken charge by military technological colleges, and with proper incentives for people to enroll and make a career out of it.Recommend

  • Sajida.
    Feb 19, 2016 - 11:38AM

    Pakistan needs something like Fraunhofer Society. Applied research that can improve/help SMEs is need of the hour.Recommend

  • IndianDude
    Feb 19, 2016 - 11:58AM

    The report is not true. Pakistan is a global IT hub with its IT graduates spreading ‘pieces’ all over the world. Recommend

  • Saqib
    Feb 19, 2016 - 12:00PM

    Innovation comes with education and Pakistan education stats are alarming, the world knows. 25 million school age boys and girls out of school. Merely 2% of the GDP for education. mostly for salary/recurring expenditures. let alone research/innovation, very less for development projects. out of development funds nearly half is not spent and surrender/laps at the end of fiscal year due to low capacity at the implementation levels and or cumbersome procedures at the planning agencies for release of funds! Lets wait for some wide heads in the bureaucracy and in the government. Recommend

  • R
    Feb 19, 2016 - 12:04PM

    Looking at the nature of the comments on here, I can see how some Pakistanis feel about our own country. And, honestly, it’s no surprise given the state of affairs and the behavior of society here for so long. Pessimism and negativity is the natural outcome. It doesn’t matter how many successful military ops or intelligence based ops you conduct. Darkness, ignorance and violence is the fate of Pakistan unless society itself decides to change and I don’t see that happening any time soon. While on one hand we have depression and negativity, on the other hand, we have masses that are completely ignorant and delusional. Such a comedic match up.Recommend

  • Hassan
    Feb 19, 2016 - 12:12PM

    @Brainy Bhaijan: as if India is.hahaha, well this is called a reality check and needs to be spread, unlike India where Indians tops everywhere, chanting slogans shinning India, but the picture of child labors, abuse, rape poverty are brush under the carpet and here we go everything is sooo perfect this is our shinning India. show some courage to publish such news.and please stop trolling over our websites. Just stay away.Recommend

  • Anon
    Feb 19, 2016 - 12:21PM

    Typical delusional response, “Everyone conspires against/hates Pakistan”. The index talks about Pakistan, not Pakistanis everywhere. The people you mentioned were Pakistanis that did that innovation for other organizations in other countries, not for Pakistan and Pakistani organizations, hence, the reason they weren’t accounted for.Recommend

  • X7
    Feb 19, 2016 - 12:32PM

    Doesn’t matter if he’s Indian or Pakistani, he’s telling the truth. And you think all those things you named don’t happen here? They do. It’s we who need a reality check first and foremost. Stop being in denial all the time.Recommend

  • Murtaza
    Feb 19, 2016 - 1:06PM

    Innovation is not something that developing countries should focus on. First we have to catch up to the advanced countries. That involves learning from what they’ve already achieved. Only once we have caught up can we shift our efforts towards innovation. The sad part is that Pakistan isn’t really growing. GDP growth of 3-5% a year is not enough.Recommend

  • Noor Muhammad Memon
    Feb 19, 2016 - 1:36PM

    It is a matter of Private & Public Priorities.
    The hold of Religosity on the society & our ignorant leaders are the main causes for KILLING the spirit of INQUIRY-an essential ingredient for innovation.With the present(and immediate future) position of EDUCATION in the country-QAUNTITATIVELY&QUALITATIVELY,no improvement in terms of “Innovation” can be expected any time soon.Recommend

  • XY
    Feb 19, 2016 - 2:17PM

    An anti Pakistan news and all the haters come crawling out of the wood work. Can’t blame them either. Commenting about Pakistan is the absolute highlight of their day. Recommend

  • Shakil Ahmed Khan
    Feb 19, 2016 - 2:21PM

    @Jameel ur Rasheed:
    they are doing best they can do!
    Its the government direction that only think brick and mortar is innovation!Recommend

  • Ali Tipu
    Feb 19, 2016 - 2:36PM

    I laughed out loud while reading the reply of the ‘ministry’ where they are claiming that they are taking drastic steps to improve the situation. Here are a few of the steps:

    1). The ministry recently diverted the allocated ICT R&D funds to decrease the so-called circular debt. In reality that money was only to fill its coffers and given to a few cronies of the the ruling elite because after paying, that debt again increased to a historic all-time high.

    2). The ministry could not appoint the HEC chairman for months (close to a year) and was in fact in a tussle with Islamabad High court. All the heads in these scientific institutions are distributed among a few relatives of the ruling elite. HEC was even working without the required number of members for a number of years.

    3).The seriousness is such that they give Peeli Taxi to every graduate of the country.

    4). Regarding the steps to stop brain drain, the PM last week boosted that he was in talks with Qatar to send 100,000 skilled Pakistani workers there. That was while he had just signed an agreement to import LNG higher than the market price. Obviously Saif-ur-Rehman was also there.Recommend

  • Muhammad Farzan
    Feb 19, 2016 - 3:01PM

    I see people claiming that government is not spending enough on youth. Well, that’s quite right, but what about the youth that actually get foreign scholarships and settles there. We the youth doesn’t have the patriotism which transforms a nation into a great nation. We, the youth will jump at any opportunity to go abroad for a few more bucks. It’s right that we don’t have the job market to induct that much of graduates but that shouldn’t cause the loss of patriotism. We should learn to serve the nation instead of personal well-being!! Peace!!Recommend

  • Travis
    Feb 19, 2016 - 3:16PM

    No Islamic nation is ranked high in innovation or any other modern yardstick to measure technical advancement despite their being so many of them.Recommend

  • Shakeel
    Feb 19, 2016 - 3:34PM

    What can we expect? HEC was the best thing Musharraf did for the country and that was shut down by PPP government. Educated Pakistani’s abroad are doing very well for themselves, involved in projects like CERN, finding cures for cancer, participating in the discovery of gravitational waves, meanwhile those in our country are not supported. Even our Labourers and working class when given the opportunity make great lives for themselves.

    If anyone ever gets a chance go to the Mirpur region in AJK. Look at what taxi drivers, factory workers and takeaway staff from the UK have built for themselves back home. The area has a thriving tourist industry based on expats and investment from expats. I have known men in our village who spent all day dressed in white salwar kameez, playing ludo or cricket and riding on motorcycles. These same useless men, when given an opportunity to earn a fair living, have built businesses for themselves and are working 7 days a week.

    GoP wake up! Give your people a chance, they will excel.Recommend

  • Sad but True
    Feb 19, 2016 - 4:17PM

    @Muhammad Farzan:
    What has Pakistan to offer ‘patriotic” returning Pakistanis? Jobs to be more nuclear weapons?Recommend

  • Osama
    Feb 19, 2016 - 4:51PM

    I just don’t know when will we wake up?Recommend

  • Feb 19, 2016 - 6:55PM

    Not a very good news for Pakistan.Recommend

  • Sara Khan
    Feb 19, 2016 - 7:16PM

    As Pakistanis we have to be honest to ourselves atleast and admit that our country is behind in everything regardless of if we agree with this post or not.

    These are the reasons, in my opinion:

    1) 9-5 jobs is killer for progress
    2) Lack of entrepreneurship
    3) Lack of transparency to run business
    4) Lack of willingness to take risks
    5) Lack of sincere leadership
    6) Interference in other countries
    7) Our habit to tie everything to religion
    8) Our emotional nature
    9) Short slightness, no long term plans
    10) Sincerity to Pakistan
    11) Living in the past (crap like muslims ruled the world etc)
    12) Lack of purpose

    Having 1000’s of PhD’s will not help, most successful people (like steve jobs and bill gates) are not even college graduates.
    I can go on and on but when we die, we will be forgotten within a few weeks, the only thing that will be remembered about us is if we contributed something to the humanity and did something for our country.Recommend

  • Char Latan
    Feb 19, 2016 - 7:55PM

    Hey, the strategic assets find new and innovative ways to infiltrate the border, shouldn’t that count for something? Recommend

  • kdp
    Feb 19, 2016 - 7:57PM

    We invented car running on water and nobody in the world paid any attention. Saudi Arabia ordered us not to proceed or develop that invention.Recommend

  • Sid
    Feb 20, 2016 - 12:41AM

    Complete lie. They are most innovative in denial and conspiracy theories. The best the world has seen. And their art in terrorism is envied by the world. This is a mis leading article.Recommend

  • gp65
    Feb 20, 2016 - 2:58AM

    @Hassan: If India did not have courage ublish the news, how would you know about it? Not only does our media publish news but civil sociey comes out in droves to demand justice for those at are wronged regardless of religion, gender or caste.Recommend

  • syed & syed
    Feb 20, 2016 - 3:46AM

    @kdp: Those who did not know that water can be split in oxygen and hydrogen which can drive the engine. As a matter of fact our grass root education is very unsatisfactory. To pass examination all unthinkable tricks are used. Those who flee from this environment does innovative work abroad.Start improving education from class I and one syllabus in the schools for the countryRecommend

  • Weirdity
    Feb 20, 2016 - 6:52AM

    What nonsense! Has the world already forgotten the water based perpetual machine invented by a Pakistani??? The world is against Pakistan!Recommend

  • Rashid Hai
    Feb 20, 2016 - 8:29AM

    Pakistan is a poor nation, even if it could allocate 2-4 % of its budget on research it would not work, until we do not;
    1 – improve our entire education system that includes;
    i) Science Syllabi & books.
    ii) Labs, equipments, practical methodology.
    iii) Teacher’s capabilities,qualifications, their training & teaching methodology.
    iv) Examination system and assessment methodology
    v) At least Rs. 100,000/- pay of primary school teachers with strict accountability.
    2 – All industrial units to have advanced level R & D department.
    3 – Any person who invent some thing new, be acknowledged, glorified & rewarded.
    Last but not the least:
    4- Strict accountability of all those (so called) planners, researchers,scientists &engineers
    who are working in different research/scientific institutions / organizations like PCSIR,
    SUPARCO, PINSTECH, PAEC, Science Foundation, Universities etc, etc.
    Pakistanies are intelligent, provide them the required environment, they would not let Pakistan down.Recommend

  • Fahad
    Feb 20, 2016 - 9:40PM


    Pls note that this news is actually underestimating the overall innovation and creativity in Pakistan, yes it is true that Pakistan is lagging behind in “GLOBAL INNOVATION” index, but pls note that Pakistan instead has improved in this index, in 2015, Pakistan was ranked at no.34 but within 1 year, Pakistan has moved up to the no.31 in 2016.

    The improvement is very slow in Pakistan but it is their. If the Government in Pakistan focuses on R&D ,education and Scientific culture, than I am sure the ranking of Pakistan can INSHALLAH improve further.

    Pls note that few years ago ,India was ranked at no.71 but recently India has dropped down to 81 on the index of “GLOBAL INNOVATION” in 2015.Recommend

  • Ahad
    Feb 20, 2016 - 10:10PM

    @Sara Khan: 9 to 5 is meant to keep things smooth in the whole world. Change 9 to 5 in the world first and in Pakistan second. The rest makes sense. But I think you forgot goal oriented and Hypocrisy. “This job is not done by my kind because I am XYZ”. This is the secret success recipe of westerners. Recommend

  • Ahad
    Feb 20, 2016 - 10:18PM

    @Char Latan:
    When Indians find new and innovative ways to waste time is called inventionRecommend

  • Ahad
    Feb 20, 2016 - 10:21PM

    We need interdisciplinary research councils. Recommend

  • Muhammad Muzammil
    Feb 27, 2016 - 12:27AM

    @Sara Khan:
    One of the big reason is almost majority of the intelligent people like position holders are getting into accounting education especially in Karachi as they are highly paid. CA in Pakistan have high mobility to other countries. I think engineering institute are not getting enough talented people. Also universities in Pakistan are not enough and government institutes are just crop. I think universities should always be private. They can claim funds from the government based on the number of students they are teaching but at least there shud be some competition. The second major reason is extremism. The only reason why India got so much economic development is because the country is free from extremism. Pakistan absorbed all the curse of war in Afghanistan and Middleeast.Recommend

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