Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah once issued a challenge to Pakistan’s youth. “Development is being sought in every walk of life and you have to take on this process of development. Are you preparing to take on tomorrow’s responsibilities? Are you building your capacity? Are you trained enough? If no, then go and prepare yourself because this is the time to prepare yourself for future responsibilities,” he advised. June 3 marked an important milestone in the US-Pakistan relationship. I am immensely proud that we inaugurated together the Education, Science and Technology Working Group (ESTWG) and launched the US-Pakistan Centers for Advanced Studies.
The ESTWG will enhance academic linkages between the US and Pakistan as well as promote scientific and technological research between both countries. Its formation elevates the profile of higher education in the bilateral relationship. Education — one of the four Es (economy, energy, education, and countering extremism) that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif identified as top priorities — is fundamental to Pakistan’s stability, development and growth. Hosted by Minister of Planning, Development, and Reform Ahsan Iqbal, the inaugural Working Group session focused on expanding cooperation in science and technology, and enhancing educational and technological resources. Participants included senior US and Pakistani government officials, academics and private sector representatives.
The US-Pakistan Centers for Advanced Studies, sponsored by the USAID, will focus on finding viable long-term solutions to Pakistan’s greatest priorities. The $127 million, five-year initiative will provide opportunities for joint research, facilitate faculty and student exchanges, and link academia and the private sector through policy development in the areas of energy, water, and agriculture and food security. The US-Pakistan Centers for Advanced Studies will be housed in four leading Pakistani and US universities. Both the National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST) and the University of Engineering and Technology, Peshawar, will partner with Arizona State University to create two centers for energy research; the University of Jamshoro and the University of Utah will partner to create the center for water; and the University of Agriculture, Faisalabad, and the University of California at Davis will partner to create the center for agriculture and food security.
Each US-Pakistan Center for Advanced Studies will form public-private partnerships and interest-specific networks to bring together the best minds in academia, government and business. Together, they will seek to strengthen the effectiveness of policy-making, innovation and economic growth.
The US-Pakistan Centers for Advanced Studies will go a long way towards transforming the workforce. As US Secretary of State John Kerry noted during International Education Week last year, “Many businesses and foundations understand that global education is an extraordinarily wise and effective investment in the future.” Our new working group and the US-Pakistan Centers for Advanced Studies exemplify this investment. Through cooperation in education, our two countries will ensure a better future for generations to come.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 5th, 2015.