Pakistan-United States relations shifting from security to knowledge: Ahsan Iqbal

Islamabad, July 28, 2016 (PPI-OT):Federal Minister Planning, Development and Reform Ahsan Iqbal today stated,” Pakistan-USA relations have expanded to education and knowledge during the present democratic regime. In the past, security issues defined the bilateral relations between the two countries, but cooperation in education, knowledge and social sector are new dimensions in bilateral relations.

Pakistan looks forward to achieving SDGs through enhanced cooperation in social sector, Ahsan Iqbal stated while talking to a delegation of University of UTAH at Ministry of Planning, Development and Reform. He said that University of UTAH is one of the Universities which has established strategic partnership with Pakistan.

The University of Utah USA is partnering with Mehran University of Engineering and Technology (MUET) Jamshoro for centre for advanced studies in water resources and cooperation in postgraduate degree programs, applied policy research, facilitation of public-private partnerships, and provision of policy advice in a range of water related disciplines.

Minister said that Pak -US knowledge corridor would establish partnership between Pakistan and USA Universities to prepare 10,000 PhDs in next ten years for the country. Minister appreciated the universities in USA and said that these links will help in high quality human resource for Pakistan future level and Pakistani has tremendous potential and government assigns top priority to educate the youth.

While highlighting Government’s commitment to promoting higher education, Ahsan Iqbal informed the delegation that from 2010 -2013 the HEC budget was 100 billion which from 2013 to 2016 has been increased to Rs 215 billion. He further stated that in last three years Planning Commission has approved 66 HEC projects which are even more than those approved in the last ten years.

Ahsan Iqbal said that we failed to achieve the MDGs due to lack of political will, natural calamities and war on terror. But we don’t want to repeat the mistakes of MDGs and aspire to make SDGs a success story by treating them as our national development goals.

Pakistan is the first country to adopt SDGs 2030 agenda through a unanimous resolution of Parliament as Pakistan Development Goals. “We believe that SDGs agenda of development isn’t an international agenda, it is our own agenda. It reflects our ambition and desire to give our people better quality of life. Therefore, we must take full ownership of SDGs with complete devotion and passion”, he added.

Ahsan Iqbal said that the present government’s Vision 2025 provides a comprehensive national long term strategy for achieving inclusive growth and sustainable development. The seven pillars of Vision 2025 are fully aligned with SDGs. At the federal level, SDGs Monitoring and Coordination Unit, in coordination with UNDP, is being established to serve as a national coordinating entity with similar units in provinces, he maintained.

Ahsan Iqbal said that there are still knowledge gaps which we need to fill to work closely with private sector and academia. Pakistan’s problems can be solved but only in collaborative mood, Minister added. Minister said that the clean drinking water provision is a major challenge as contaminated water is spreading chronic diseases. He said that Pakistan is among top 5 countries which are most vulnerable to global climate change. It is the responsibility of developed countries to maintain strong cooperation with us as Global peace comes through global prosperity, he added.

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