KARACHI - Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Reform Dr Ahsan Iqbal has said the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is a “fate changer” for Pakistan.

He was speaking at the launch of the 800 MHz Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Spectrometer at the Prof Salimuzzaman Siddiqui Auditorium at the International Centre for Chemical and Biological Sciences (ICCBS) on Friday.

“Political volatility and cessation of policies in the previous governments played havoc with the national progress. This government will take Pakistan to the group of the world’s top 25 economic giants in 2025. The 800 MHz Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Spectrometer facility at the International Centre for Chemical and Biological Sciences (ICCBS), University of Karachi, will contribute to the progress of the country. The government is making all out efforts to uplift the higher education sector,” he said.

KU Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Muhammad Qaiser, former federal minister for science and technology and former chairman of Higher Education Commission Prof Dr Atta-ur-Rahman, ICCBS Director Prof Dr Muhammad Iqbal Choudhary, Prof Dr Daniel C Hoessli from Switzerland, HEJ Foundation Chairman Aziz Latif Jamal and Dr Panjwani Memorial Trust Chairperson Nadira Panjwani also spoke on the occasion.

After the ceremony, the federal minister inaugurated the 800 MHz NMR facility at the ICCBS, University of Karachi. Applications of the NMR facility range from drug discovery and development to food and nutritional analysis, forensic sciences, halal food testing, perfumery, herbal medicines, oil industry, petroleum, environmental sciences, etc.

The minister also inaugurated the new international book titled “Solving Problems with NMR Spectroscopy, Second Edition” written by Prof Dr Att-aur-Rahman, Prof Dr Iqbal Choudhary and Dr Atia-tul-Wahab from the ICCBS.

Addressing the ceremony, he said the government increased the higher education budget from 100 billion rupees to 250 billion rupees and this showed government’s priorities. He said the government had launched various initiatives in the higher education sector. He said the Pak-US Knowledge Corridor was one of the most significant initiatives and promised that the government would facilitate talented Pakistani scholars for enrolment in top US universities in the next 10 years.

He said that Pakistani universities must produce quality research otherwise they would be considered just colleges. Giving an example of the US, he said that the real power of the US lied in the strength of its universities. A national conference was going to be held to discuss reforms in the higher education sector, he said.

Prof Dr Muhammad Qaiser appreciated the efforts of the ICCBS for brining such a sophisticated research facility to Pakistan and said that now Pakistani scientists would be able to use most modern facility in their own country.

In the beginning, Prof Atta-ur-Rahman delivered a comprehensive lecture on “The Wondrous World of Science”. He said that science, technology and innovation were transforming the economies. Muslim world needed to perform extraordinarily in higher education and science and technology. The Cambridge University alone has produced around 90 Nobel laureates so far, but in the Muslim world there is no Nobel laureate, he said. In this age of knowledge, Pakistan spends only two per cent of its GDP on education, which is really a matter of shame for the nation, he said.

The former HEC chief advised the federal minister to take more concrete step for development of the higher education sector in the country. He said the government had increased the higher education budget, but a significant increase in the development budget of higher education was needed on a priority. He said the Tenure Track System should be restored in higher education institutions.

Dr Choudhary said the NMR facility served mostly undergraduate, graduate and post-doctoral researchers in the Chemistry and Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Departments all over the country. The facility served corporate and industrial clients as well.

Aziz Latif Jamal appreciated the efforts of the ICCBS leadership for making the centre an internationally renowned research establishment in Pakistan. He said the HEJ Foundation and his family would continue their support to the progress of the ICCBS.

Nadira Panjwani said she was proud of Dr Panjwani Centre for Molecular Medicine and Drug Research (PCMD) at research establishment of ICCBS. She said centre was one of the finest research institutions in the world. Talking about the education system in Pakistan, she showed her disappointment with the degradation of education sector and said it needed to be improved for the betterment of the country.

Prof Dr Daniel C Hoessli from Switzerland also spoke on the occasion.