ISLAMABAD - "Refine the missing link of good marketing otherwise the world would keep on exploiting you," said Kamran Ali Qureshi, federal secretary, ministry of science and technology, while inaugurating a 3-day training workshop at Pakistan Museum of Natural History (PMNH).

The workshop titled "Gemstone Grading, Treatment and Evaluation" was organised by PMNH (a subsidiary of Pakistan Science Foundation), International Gemmological Laboratory, Gems and Gemmological Institute of Pakistan (GGIP), Pakistan Association of Petroleum Geologists and Islamabad Women Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Acting Chairman Pakistan Science Foundation (PSF) and Member Science, Dr Khalil Ahmed Ibupoto, Director General PMNH Dr Atta Ul Mohsin, senior officers from MoST, PSF and other scientific institutions were also present at the inaugural ceremony of the workshop.

The secretary called upon the organisers to arrange an exhibition of gems and jewellery in Islamabad in order to introduce Pakistani precious stones to the world. He asked them to invite diplomats and other relevant people to this exhibition and provide them proper information in this regard.

Talking about various problems such as funds shortage and administrative issues, being faced by government research and development institutions, Qureshi said it is the time that the stakeholders should sit together and find solutions to these problems. He said it is task of the heads of the organisations to explore and manage resources for their development work and the government would facilitate them in removing hurdles. The federal secretary said it is very unfortunate that our scientists and researchers are not getting due recognition of their work.

Giving introduction of the workshop, the PMNH DG said experienced gemstone experts from relevant fields would share their professional experience with participants regarding knowledge of gemstone, their type, value, identification, classification, gradation, cutting, polishing and pricing.

Dr Mohsin said people related to the field of gems and jewellery have been participating in the workshop to refine their professional skills so that they could be able to compete in the world market. He said Pakistan is blessed with vast natural reserves of precious, semi-precious and coloured gemstones, including ruby, sapphire, emerald, tourmaline garnet, topaz, peridot, aquamarine, spinel, pargasite, diopsite, moonstone, serpentine, jade, epidote, pink beryl (morganite), goshnite, sphene, zoisite, turquoise, epitite, agite etc and almost all known varieties of quartz.

He said Pakistan with a population of more than 180 million is a country where labour force is relatively cheap hence offers a competitive edge to the gem, gemstone and jewellery markets. Women in this part of the region love to wear gem and jewellery on different occasions and ceremonies. Historically Pakistan has a rich tradition of gem and jewellery designs and craftsmanship, right from Ghandhara civilization, Alexandrian period and finally to the Mughal Era, he added.

The DG said the workshop is aimed at complementing the gems industry and to optimally exploit the mineral resources in Pakistan. The demand of Pakistani gemstones continues to grow rapidly in the international market and there is a need to exploit the country's natural reserves and to create a substantial niche. Pakistani gems and jewellery sector has huge potential to become a global leader by adopting modern techniques and methodologies, he added.