The current Prime Minister of Pakistan (2019) is found believing religiously in the power of science and technology. We can predict from his statements, claims, and conduct about the third surge of the science of technology based politics or technopolitics in Pakistan .
Pakistan has really entered into the race of science and technology now and hopefully will achieve big milestones. He is expected to turn around S&T in Pakistan and also influence the innovation landscape of the region. He has been chancellor of Bedfordshire, founder of Numal College and founder of SKM Cancer Hospital and Research Centre.
The importance of “Science and Technology” or Technopolitics in Pakistan is highlighted by Prime Minister of Pakistan in the last few international meetings clearly indicate the priority and focus of Government.
PM Imran Khan delivered the keynote address at BRI Summit on 26 April 2019 and said;
“We are expanding the frontiers of knowledge through closer engagement and deeper collaboration in the fields of education, innovation, and technology”.
PM Imran Khan was addressing the Chinese business community in Beijing during BRI summit and said;
“The prospect of us getting technology in the field of agriculture from China. ……..we will be able to achieve a sort of growth rate which could not be thought possible. And it is just because of getting chines to help in agriculture, in the seed development, agriculture research. I met premier Lie…..we talk about getting help from China in the field of science and technology. We want to set up a university of science and technology. An elite university where we want at least eight subjects, where China has progressed in technology, artificial intelligence, IT”.
PM Imran Khan was addressing OIC Summit in Mecca on 01 June 2019 and said;
“The Muslim world is not paying much attention to science and technology. We have an organization called COMSTECH. I feel that we at the verge of another industrial revolution; artificial intelligence, blockchain. New technologies are coming in. we must not be left behind again………………I think from the OIC platform, it would be a good opportunity for us to concentrate on spending more on science and technology”…
PM Imran Khan was addressing SCO Summit on 14th June 2019 and said;
Disruptive technologies are maturing……there are increasing barriers to open trade and innovation…… Bridge the gap between region-specific research and policy by launching feasibilities for SCO Centre of Excellence for ……and new technologies
The World Moved to Technopolitics
The world has been doing politics around occupations, slavery, preferred rights, socialism, capitalism and other notable issues of the time. The world has moved now into a new era of politics called “technopolotics”. The political parties like the Green Party of Canada and Five Star Movement of Italy have put technology in their core political manifesto and party mission. In the recent few decades, technology was taken as a core instrument for development and growth by many developed and then developing countries.
According to the papers referred to in the bibliography, there are numerous dimensions of technopolitics. The concepts range from e-government to e-election, e-governance, e politics, techno-centred government, sustainability centred government, and many other jargons. Broadly, there are three fundament concepts as 1) use of technology to make the government, 2) use of technology to run the government and 3) use of technology to ensure growth and progress by the government.
Role of Technology in Political Make-or-Break
The role of ICT and social media is very much debated and proven in election win. The political parties gained a high increase in voting by efficiently using ICT and social media all over the world. The article by Kalvet, T. (2012) illustrates how Estonia used technology to efficiently run the government and emerged as a model example of e-government for the rest of the world.
China has emerged as a cashless economy. The china also entered from the third world three decades before to the first world by making technology as a key growth factor. The technology parks in China are challenging the innovation leadership of the world. China has uplifted 70% population from poverty line using advanced technologies in agriculture, infrastructure, and tourism.
China is leading the world in many technologies like railway, 5G, green deserts, the space program and artificial intelligence (Yi, M., Fang, X., & Zhang, Y., 2019).
Prof. Atta-ur-Rahman (1) wrote in Science Magazine as “The world is today sharply divided by a technology boundary that separates the technologically advanced countries from the technologically backward ones”.
According to Brake, D. (2018) as a single technology area of 5G may determine the future course of national competitiveness and national security. The rising war between China and USA on 5G clearly reflects that the occupation of land was replaced by the occupation of technology
Technopolitical Turmoil of Pakistan
Pakistan was among the leading developing countries in science and technology in the early period of 20 years after birth in 1947. This golden period of the rise in science and technology is led by Professor Saleemuzaman Siddique and Professors Abduslam as advisors for science and technology.
Pakistan set up the most advanced technology lab in 1952 called Pakistan Council for Scientific Research (PCSIR). Pakistan set up six most modern research councils in the 50s including nuclear research program. The USA started the nuclear technology program in the late 1930s and Pakistan initiated in late 1950 just 20 years after the USA. Pakistan has set up around 250-300 R&D institutes to supply technology to local industries and contribute to economic growth.
Unfortunately, the 50 years of political turmoil disabled Pakistan to register any significant progress in science and technology. There was a good peak in higher education and telecom sector during the first of half of the 2000s. The science and technology institutes remained stagnant. Pakistan exports stagnated and hardly touched the USD 24 billion and then back to less than 20. The import surged to USD 60 billion. The debt has grown to PKR 3,000 billion. This all happened due to the ignorance of the power of science and technology for nation-building.
Pakistan at the Verge of Technopolitics
The recent Government now seems going beyond the lip services to use science and technology for economic development. The government has committed around 43 billion for science and technology projects other than ongoing higher education programs.
The most interestingly Professor Atta-ur-Rahman is back as vice chairman of the task force on the knowledge economy.
Interestingly the Dr Saleemuzaman the teacher of Professor Atta-ur-Rahman developed the foundation of science and technology in Pakistan. The student Professor Atta-ur-Rahman gave the second surge to science and technology after 30 years.
Now second-time Professor Atta-ur-Rahman assumed the leading role and expected to give a great breakthrough in science and technology.
The major part of S&T history of Pakistan revolves around a teacher and the student; Dr Saleemuzaman Siddique and Professor Atta-ur-Rahman.
Pakistan is about to be an innovative country if strongly backed by institutional strengthening, restraining corruption, quality education at primary, secondary and undergrad level, international collaborations, foreign investments and open market.
- Technology in Pakistan: The Way Forward by By Prof. Atta-ur-Rahman Sep. 13, 2002 , https://www.sciencemag.org/careers/2002/09/science-and-technology-pakistan-way-forward – lastly accessed on June 25, 2019
- Brake, D. (2018). Economic Competitiveness and National Security Dynamics in the Race for 5G between the United States and China.
- Deseriis, M. (2019). Digital movement parties: a comparative analysis of the technopolitical cultures and the participation platforms of the Movimento 5 Stelle and the Piratenpartei. Information, Communication & Society, 1-17.
- Hunter, C. (2018). The rise of China in space: technopolitical threat construction in American public policy discourse (Doctoral dissertation, University of Bristol).
- Kalvet, T. (2012). Innovation: a factor explaining e-government success in Estonia. Electronic Government, an International Journal, 9(2), 142-157.
- Kellner, D. (1997). Intellectuals, the new public spheres, and techno-politics. New Political Science, 169-188.
- Milan, S., & Gutierrez, M. (2018). Technopolitics in the age of Big Data. In Networks, Movements and Technopolitics in Latin America (pp. 95-109). Palgrave Macmillan, Cham.
- Mitchell, T. (2002). Rule of experts: Egypt, techno-politics, modernity. Univ of California Press.
- Yi, M., Fang, X., & Zhang, Y. (2019). The Differentiated Influence of Technology Absorption on Regional Economic Growth in China. Sustainability, 11(2), 450.