Why have technology transfer strategies not been successful in Pakistan? Are we moving globally intended to technology transfer for nothing? Conceptually, the relation between technology transfer and foreign policy is rather an old phenomenon. Throughout the world history, they mutually influenced and had an impact on each other. Scientific age is said to have begun in seventeenth century. Later, technological development went alongside the economic growth. By the end of nineteenth century, role of science had become related to applications more closely as industrial research. In the twentieth century, industrial research became a self-sustaining system and vital factor in the amplification of technological innovation. When we come to the post-Cold War ear and the twenty-first century, new challenges have become more prominent, such as environmental security and climate change, health and bio-safety, biotechnology and bio-medicine, cyber security and bio-terrorism, food safety and genetically modified crops, nuclear proliferation and civil use of nuclear power, weapons of mass destruction, energy and water supplies, humanitarian crises etc. In today’s world, many of the global challenges have a scientific aspect and no one single nation is capable of tackling these challenges alone. These new global challenges required new techniques for international cooperation, technology transfer and diplomacy. In other words, “global problems require global solutions”.In this context, Science Diplomacy – hereafter SciDip, as a concept and a non-traditional method of diplomacy and international relations had gained importance. In reality, it is not new, but as a concept it is quite contemporary. As can be exemplified through different country examples, the British Royal Society, which was established in the eighteenth century, has always used science as a tool to solve military and political problems. The concept gained importance, especially after the World War II, but even before the United Kingdom (UK) appointed its first accredited scientific representative to Washington in 1941. Then another British representative was sent to China between the years 1942-1946. NATO set up a science program in 1957 and US National Academy of Science (NAS) ran parallel Committees on International Security and Arms Control (CISAC) together with the Soviet Union Academy of Sciences (ASUSSR). After the end of the Cold War, the activities of SciDip gained a momentum is the countries like UK, USA and Japan etc. In the US, the post of Science and Technology Adviser to the US Secretary of State was established. In terms of the UK, their government established the Science and Innovation Network (SIN). This network is comprised of more than ninety staff working in forty cities in twenty-five countries and their main aim is to promote the scientific expertise of UK abroad and to build international collaborations in the area of S&T. Japan is another active country in this respect and has a formal SciDip policy since 2007 with the aim of increasing participation of Japanese scientists into international research programs, providing international scientific advice, and building scientific capacity.
In our globally-interconnected society where urgencies of the present and future meet today – S&T advice in foreign ministry is part of the solution to address the issues, impacts and resources within, across and beyond the boundary of state. Today, we are witnessing a growing presence of S&T in the whole UN system and the 2030 Agenda decisively admit not only the critical role of S&T but also formalizes its alliance through the establishment of initiatives such as the Technology Facilitation Mechanism (TFM). Correspondingly, technology transfer is an important issue and key component of economic and social development of Pakistan. The successful implementation of technology transfer depends not only on good technical specification but also, on the right social, political and institutional environment. The existing capacity of institutes in Pakistan is not sufficient and the situation demands that the Government of Pakistan (GoP) must establish merit-based institutions, with proper technical manpower to deal with the problems relevant to technology transfer and technological development. As said by Lewis M. Branscomb, “Unless scientist and policymakers learn to work together effectively, both domains will suffer”. In Pakistan, there is escalating obligation on policymakers for science advice to transfer of technology because scientific evidence may help to manage risks and facilitate them to formulate better and effective regulatory and legislative decision. In this regards, the GoP may perform the following roles:
- Device the SciDip based foreign policy and integrates a science perspective into traditional foreign policy and creates an information platform for SciDip.
- Establish the coordinating office for SciDip to highlight the connection between science, social and economic development.
- Establish effective mechanisms for ensuring appropriate and timely scientific advice and define clear and transparent framework and rule of procedure for advisory process and mechanism.
- Implement measure that build societal trust in science for policy making and work with international organizations to ensure coherence between national and international scientific advisory mechanism related to complex global challenges.
- Utilize science and technology personnel in diplomatic activities/missions and promote strategic joint research development with regional countries with high diplomatic importance.
- Continue its efforts to strengthen good governance, with the emphasis on merit-based institutional development and rule of law. And, exceptionally eliminate corruption and nepotism from the society.