Stop brain drain

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PRESIDENT Mamnoon Hussain deserves credit for persistently raising some of the critical issues that kept the country on the back foot despite all the potential it possesses to grow faster. Inaugurating 2nd international conference on Space on Tuesday, President Mamnoon rightly emphasized the need for building the capacity of scientific and research institutions and achieving self-reliance in all disciplines of knowledge in order to reap the fruits of sustainable development.
Today, we live in a world, in which knowledge has become the key driver for socio economic development. The countries that realized this universal truth and invested massively in science, engineering and innovation have surged forward. In our country, however, investment in higher education especially in science & technology has not been given the priority it deserved, which in fact forced the highly qualified people to pursue their careers abroad. In the tenure of Dr Attaur Rehman as Chairman of HEC, we did see substantial uplift in the budget of higher education during which thousands of students were sent abroad on scholarships with attractive offers to return home and join the top universities after completion of doctorate degrees. That indeed was a golden period in higher education as the country saw manifold increase in scientific publications in international journals, which even perturbed our archrival India so much so that one of its writers stated in an article that Pakistan may soon join China in giving India serious competition in science. But then the PPP government made all the achievements topsy-turvy by cutting the budget of HEC. Incumbent government has taken some good initiatives such as sending thousands of students on scholarships abroad, which is a step in the right direction to acquaint our youth with technological advancements of top countries but at the same time we need to strengthen our own higher education infrastructure with provision of sufficient funds to the universities to promote extensive research in important fields. Besides, the ones sent abroad for higher education should be lured back through better career growth opportunities. With these steps, we will not only be able to stop the brain drain but also achieve self-reliance both in knowledge and economy.