Posted by: Administrator | 21 January, 2005

10th Meeting of OIC Ministerial Standing Committee on Science and Technology (COMSTECI-I)

16 February 2002

Inaugural Address of the President of Pakistan General Pervez Musharraf at the 10th Meeting of OIC Ministerial Standing Committee on Science and Technology Co-operation (COMSTECI-I)

Prof. Ata-ur-Rehman, Coordinator General of COMSTECH, Ambassador Khalid Saleern Sahib, Representative of Secretary General OIC, His Excellency Dr. Ahmed bin Khalipha Abu Shurbak-Al-Mansooi, Representative of the Chairman OIC, Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, Assalani-o-Alaikum.

It gives me great pleasure to extend to your Excellencies, a very warm welcome to the 10th General Assembly meeting of the Organization of Islamic Conference Standing Committee on Scientific and Technological Co-operation. I am sure you will make this meeting of COMSTECH a memorable one by committing to work for the betterment of the Ummah through concrete support to the COMSTECH. I wish you success in your deliberations and hope that your stay in Islamabad will be comfortable, enjoyable and highly rewarding, and your deliberations will lead to tangible and concrete strategies for the promotion of science and technology in the Islamic World.

Excellencies, I feel very strongly that the time has come for the Muslim Ummah to act, but act correctly and in the right direction. For too long, we have been paying mere lip service to causes which are indeed absolutely crucial for our future progress and prosperity. We have been calling each other brothers without really meaning it. We are brothers; we must remain brothers. We must call each other brothers but we must understand and act upon the obligations of brothers for each other. We are all emotionally involved in conflicts around the world where Muslims are victims and yet we are suffering. Our blood boils ta see the arrogance of Milosevic whose hands are tainted with the blood of hundreds of thousands of our Bosnian brothers and sisters but we are helpless.

What is the path to the alleviation of our miseries? This is the key question. We must address this malady and adopt an ascendant path. There is no short cut. Recovery will take time but if we set our course right, Allah will, take us to our destiny Excellencies, I am a strong believer in seeing the mirror or standing in front of the mirror and then addressing the problem. Unless we see ourselves in the mirror first, we cannot see our strengths and weaknesses. Therefore, I would very frankly and honestly try to see where we stand today.

The Ummah, my brothers and sisters, is in darkness. We are the poorest. We are the most illiterate. We are the most backward. We are the unhealthiest. Indeed we are the most unenlightened, the most deprived and the weakest of the human race today. To top all this, we are involved in strife and fratricides within and perceived to be terrorists outside. So this is what the minor shows us, unfortunately.

Let us now look at some eye-opening statistics. The Muslim Ummah is 1/4th of humanity, roughly. We hold 70% of the world’s energy resources. Yet, the combined GDP of the Ummah is 1200 billion dollars only. Germany’s GDP is 2500 billion dollars and Japan’s GDP is. 5500 billion dollars, four times of the entire Ummah. The GDP of Austria, with a 2 population of barely 8 million, is 208 billion dollars. While the maximum of the Ummah, including that of Turkey, probably stands at somewhere near 185 billion dollars. GDP of majority of the Ummah is under 50 billion dollars. What a shame. But why is this so?

It is the difference in the human resources, the technological gap that Dr. Atta-ur-Rehman was talking of. The entire Muslim Ummah has 430 universities, only 25 worth the name, rest are colleges. Japan alone has over 1000 universities. The entire Ummah produces only 500 PhDs annually in science subjects. Britain alone produces 3000 PhDs in science every year.

My brothers and sisters, This is the true state of our deprivation. It is heart-breaking when we relate this to our past glorious history. We have been the source of light for humanity. We transferred technology to the world. This is the state of affairs. However, let us not be despondent. We have the resources. We can rise again. We have to co-operate genuinely as brothers.

We have to share our resources with brotherly generosity and sincerity, financial resources and intellectual resources, wherever they exist in the Ummah and they do exist everywhere.

Let us, today, take a solemn pledge to launch the Jehad-e-Akbar that our Prophet (Peace be Upon Him) envisioned. A Jehad against illiteracy, poverty, backwardness and deprivation. Let us, together, reach out for the light from this darkness that we are in. Excellencies, We must open centres of excellence wherever intellectual expertise exists around in the Ummah. Let the deserving in the Ummah benefit from these centres and return to their countries to spread their light. Let us also learn and acquire from the developed world, through massive scholarships, to the deserving amongst the Ummah. We have to generate the finances for all this activity.

The present contributions are a mere pittance in front of the requirement. Such lip service to scientific and technological education, in the present knowledge driven world, will not take us anywhere. We have to create a multi-billion dollar R&D fund through pooling our resources if we want genuine progress and I repeat, multibillion dollar R&D fund.

I am not asking for money for Pakistan, let that be very clear to everyone, or directly for the COMSTECH fund which we are running. I don’t ask for that. Let a new transparent fund be created for COMSTECH but held, may be, by the Islamic Development Bank, or any other modality could be worked out which suits everyone of us.

Let Dr. Atta-ur-Rehman be the torch bearer of the rejuvenated COMSTECH for the Muslim Ummah. I know he has the will, he has the dedication, he has the potential and above all, he has the honesty to deliver and make it succeed. I intend sending him, as my special emissary, with a blue print of action, to the Muslim leaders. This is the true path of emancipation. My brothers and sisters, This will lead to our economic revival through the medium of human resource development in science and technology. This is the path to follow if our voice is to be heard around the globe and this is the path to follow to develop strength within us to help any pail of the Ummah in distress around the world.

Let us all remember that political power also flows from intellectual and developmental power and economic power. COMSTECH has developed a comprehensive package. of scientific programmes with a focus on human resources development, producing a skilled, highly motivated and committed generation of young people, who will serve as the engine of growth for the Muslim Ummah in their respective countries. It is important to aggressively address the problems, clearly define our future 3 course of action and, above all, effectively implement these strategies.

Excellencies. Muslim scholars, social scientists and religious leaders are today faced with a new responsibility to help project the true spirit and teachings of Islam. They have to help eliminate some of the erroneous impressions about our great religion. With their extremely powerful tools, that have now become available for information sharing. COMSTECH could play a very crucial role in promoting the dissemination of proper and healthy Information. This could include the contributions of Muslim scientists to the human knowledge poo1 in earlier years of human history, right even up to the fifteen century. This will also be an eyeopener to the Muslim nation about the complete decline and the reversal in our contributions to the total human knowledge pool.

 Excellencies, Let me now very briefly touch upon an area which, along with some of the other frontier technologies, has become one of the powerful tools for economic development This is the breakthrough in information technology. However, along with all the progress and prosperity that it will bring, it is likely to result in digital divide, which will further sharpen and polarize the available economic opportunities between the developing aid the developed world.

I am extremely pleased that COMSTECHI, in collaboration with Islamic Development Bank, had organized a two-day international’ seminar on “Digital Divide” in which a number of Muslim scholars participated. Digital Divide describes the growing separation between those who, have access to, knowledge and those who do, . not. Differences in access to the internet can be found between, different geographic, economic, ethnic and national groups. The recommendations of the seminar are being circulated to the distinguished delegates of this General Assembly. I earnestly hope that these recommendations will receive your due consideration and you will take all possible measures to reduce the gap resulting from this digital divide. This is one is .i.e. that each one of us must remain highly conscious of, and, make all possible efforts together to get out of the deprived or the ignorant side. ‘of this intellectual divide.

Excellencies, I have touched on the real core issues only. I am sure that an enlightened and wellinformed gathering, like the present one, is already aware of these realities. My plea, however, is that it is now high time to make a radical shift in our approach, clearly moving away from mere words, towards the very strong and firm commitment to concrete action as highlighted by Dr. Atta-ur-Rehman also. It goes without saying that things get done only by doing them and not by merely talking about them. I shall not take more of your time as you have a very busy schedule ahead of you. I trust your deliberations would evolve a programme of action that would enable us to create a strong scientific base for the progress and prosperity of the Muslim Ummah. I would like to end with a solemn prayer for the entire Ummah. Oh Allah, show us the light that we may rise again.

I thank you all.

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