Oct 14 - 20, 2002


Dr. Abdul Qadeer, the Chairman of Department of Applied Physics, University of Karachi carries a vast teaching and research experience to his credit. Born in Lahore in 1949, Dr. Qadeer did his M. Sc. Physics from University of Karachi and also did Masters in Physics from Laurentian University, Canada (Switching properties of metal oxides). The Hull University, England, awarded Dr. Abdul Qadeer a Ph.D. in Physics on his work on Semiconductor Lasers). He is serving the cause of education especially as the professor of Physics for the last 28 years at Karachi University and Laurentian University. Dr. Qadeer has got published his 18 research papers in International Journals and another 6 papers in local journals. Currently, Dr. Abdul Qadeer is doing research on Digital signals processing, High-speed data communication, switching networks and parallel processing.

PAGE: Research and Development is the most neglected area in Pakistan, this is what generally observed what is your opinion?

DR. ABDUL QADEER: Yes it is. Whatever is being carried out in the name of R/D can be described as low level research mainly due to lack of funds and support from the quarters responsible for that. The areas where this low-level research is being done are including data collection; chemical constituents of plants and fish resources, while rest of the areas are totally neglected. Currently, no funds are available for the purpose of R/D.

PAGE: The developed countries has used the knowledge of Physics for generating tremendous economic activity which ultimately helped boosting the economies of the developed world, how we in Pakistan can benefit out of the available knowledge in this field?

DR. ABDUL QADEER: There are three inter-linked areas or aspects of the research which collectively work for industrial or for that matter overall economic growth of any country. These areas are identified as Industry-Technology-Science. Unfortunately, whatever we have achieved and we in Pakistan depending upon the ready-made solutions so far it is owing to borrowed technology.

Designing of any project or technology is the real foundation, which is not being done in Pakistan obviously due to lack of funds.

There is yet another area of Nuclear Sciences, which can bring tremendous economic growth, but it is strictly confined to the public sector in Pakistan. The private sector is not encouraged for R/D activity even in other areas by the government quarters which also gives an impression of mistrust to the people having zeal to do something for the nation.

PAGE: What would you suggest to create a culture of Research and Development at least at our Universities?

DR. ABDUL QADEER: I would like to recall my experience of University in Canada which used to receive a list of diversified projects from the government with the request to pick the projects on which the research work can be carried out at the University level. There is no such practice at the University level in Pakistan.

Otherwise our Universities have the potential to bring out positive results especially in defence production, electronics and engineering sector. However, before getting into R/D activity there is a need to develop infrastructure facilities which are almost non-existence in the University.

PAGE: What is the future prospects for growth of science and technology in Pakistan.

DR. ABDUL QADEER: The situation is not encouraging at all. The interest for getting higher education in science is on the sharp decline which reflected in the fact that in 1995 some 3500 students appeared for graduation while this strength declined to the level 400 in 2002 which is self explanatory of the current trend. The fever of Information Technology and Commerce and Business Administration has badly affected the growth of science graduates in Pakistan. Even at the secondary and primary school level teachers of science and mathematics are not available in Pakistan. Some private sector schools have hired teachers from Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. If this declining trend is not arrested effectively soon, the consequences can be serious especially for growth of education in science and technology in Pakistan. This is certainly an alarming situation and demands to work on war footing to arrest the declining trends right from the primary and secondary level. Substantiating his point of view, Dr. Abdul Qadeer said that in a city of 1.4 million, the Physics Department of University of Karachi has strength of only 53 students. Actually for the last 7 years progressively, the number of students for BSC is declining seriously. In 1995 the number of students appeared for seeking admission was 9700 while today it reduced only 4000. As against this about 7000 students appeared for commerce graduation in 1995 while today the number of students appeared for commerce graduation is 36000. This change of trend is significant and calls for a serious thought to restore the interest of the students in science subjects, which provide a genuine base for technology and industrial advancement.