29 December 2010 | EN
Pakistan gets new science minister
CDC/ Edward Baker
[ISLAMABAD] Pakistan has appointed a new science minister, Aftab Hussain Shah, to replace Azam Swati.
Shah, who holds a degree in agriculture, was appointed this month (21 December), a week after the 14 December sacking of Swati, who was embroiled in a war of words with former minister of religious affairs, Hamid Kazmi, over charges of corruption in the latter's ministry.
Swati’s sacking is the latest twist in Pakistan's woes over the state of its science. He was appointed in January 2009 after the post lay vacant for a year.
In August, Swati had publicly criticised a slash in funds for science, accusing the government of short-term vision towards higher education.
A month later, a row erupted between the government and the country’s higher education ministry over cuts in funds for universities that threatened several research programmes. Ultimately, the government relented and agreed to restore funds promised in the 2010 budget.
And in December there was another crisis when differences between senior scientists and officials of two ministries halted the launch of the first indigenously produced hepatitis B drug.
After his removal, Swati accused the government of withholding research funds for political reasons.
"Although Swati did not make any breakthrough in the development of science in Pakistan, he was a voice of advocacy against science funding cuts in the country," Anwar Nasim, patron of the Pakistan Biotechnology Information Centre, told SciDev.Net.
Farooq ( Pakistan )
30 December 2010
This is another episode that will bring shame to Pakistan. On a personal note as a Pakistani researcher, Mr Swati was no better than any of the political clowns who were his predecessors in the same seat.
He did not increase the research fundings; infact he hampered the incentive program for young scientists and researchers in Pakistan like me. In 2009 annual Research Productivity allowance applications were sought from all over Pakistan.
When i tried to inquire the fate of my application after one year in Oct 2010, i was told that the same Mr swati had cancelled the RPA 2009 ( for reasons best known to him) and has sought fresh applications.
No need to mention that this was very frustrating for young researchers like me who otherwise have ZERO incentive to spend time in research and medical writing.
So as for Mr Swati; i would say : Good riddance. Let's see if the next political clown in line can do some new tricks
All SciDev.Net material is free to reproduce providing that the source and author are appropriately credited. For further details see Creative Commons.