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In defence of COMSATS

In my position as chairman of the coordinating council of the Commission on Science and Technology for Sustainable Development in the South (COMSATS), I would like to make the following comments about the article published in SciDev.Net on April 25,  referring to the recent meeting of the commission in Islamabad.

COMSATS is an excellent initiative started by Professor Abdus Salam, whose contributions to the development of science in the Third World are indisputable. Other initiatives from Professor Salam, such as the International Centre for Theoretical Physics and the Third World Academy of Sciences (TWAS) have played a key role in raising awareness about the importance of these issues for the social and economic development of Southern countries.

COMSATS has sought to go beyond, bringing together research centres to implement high quality joint research programs and the exchange of high level researchers. Its role over the years has been of paramount importance, as shown in the report submitted by the executive director during the meeting

COMSATS is a very suitable mechanism for promoting South-South cooperation at the international level. Its presence in three continents has enormous potential in this regard, and it is clear that it has generated concrete collaborative activities between countries

In particular, the International Center of Physics hosted last year the Coordination Council meeting in Bogotá, Colombia. This meeting was very successful and opened many possibilities of cooperation with Latin America. A detailed report was published in SciDev.Net(9 June 2011).

Besides its role in promoting research and development projects, and taking into account its wide international composition, COMSATS can be very important in supporting efforts to establish science policies in member countries.

For the research centres, COMSATS has been essential to share experiences on administrative, scientific, and financial aspects. In addition, it has opened up the possibility of marketing our technological developments in member countries

A positive factor, for the consolidation of COMSATS, has been the permanent support of the government of Pakistan, without which the institution could not survive. Similarly, the relationship with the COMSATS Institute of Information Technology (CIIT), an institution of wide recognition, has also enabled COMSATS to strengthen its possibilities in scientific and technological aspects.

In my opinion, the commission meeting was very successful and member states clearly committed to increase their financial support to the future activities of COMSATS.