SUMMARY REPORT ON CANADA PAKISTAN FORUM:
‘From Education to Energy Sectors and Beyond’
FOCUS:Encouraging Joint Collaborations in Identified Sectors between
Canada and Pakistan. Formation of Task Forces in respective Sectors.
EXPERTS:Dr. Akram Sheikh, Professor Emeritus National University of Science &
Technology (NUST), Former Deputy Chairman/Federal Minister Planning
Commission, Government of Pakistan.
Dr Reza Moridi, Minister of Research and Innovation, Minister of Training,
College and University.
VENUE:Ontario Investment and Trade Centre. 250 Yonge Street, Toronto. ON.
ORGANIZED BY:Canada Pakistan Business Council in partnershipwith the
International Trade Branch of the Government of Ontario and the
Consulate General of Pakistan in Toronto.

OVERVIEW:

Amongst the attendees included Hon. Dr. Reza Moridi, Minster of Research & Innovation, Minister of Training, College and University, Government of Ontario, Dr. M Akram Sheikh, Former Deputy Chairman/Federal Minister Planning Commission of Pakistan and Professor Emeritus, National University of Science & Technology (NUST), Mr. Asghar Ali Golo, Consul General of Pakistan, Hon. Dr. Shafiq Qaadri, Parliamentary Assistant to the Premier of Ontario, Ms. Sue Rauth, Deputy Director Foreign Affairs, Trade Development Canada, ‎Mr. John Shalagan, Senior Policy Advisor at Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities, Mr Akhil Tyagi, Area Director, International Brach of the Government of Ontario, Ms. Christina Kakaflikas, Economic Development, City of Markham, Hon. Bryon Wilfert, Chairman CPBC, Mr. Samir Dossal, President CPBC, Dr. Shamim Sheikh, Advisor, CPBC. Also present was a large cross-section of Academia representing various Colleges and Universities, Government representatives, Businesspersons, Directors, Advisors and Members of the CPBC.

Dr. Akram Sheikh extended invitation to Dr. Moridi and Dr. Qaadri to visit Pakistan at a mutually convenient time. Dr. Sheikh offered that National University of Science and Technology and two associated groups Corporate Advisory Committee (CAC) and Global Think Tank Network (GTTN) would help make all appropriate arrangements for their visit. Dr. Moridi emphasized that international education was an important tool for building relationships between countries and regions, and strengthening business ties. A total of 300 Trillium scholarships funded by the Government of Ontario were awarded by Ontario Universities last year to some of the top students in the world.

The event, hosted by CPBC and jointly by the International Trade Branch of the Government of Ontario in partnership with the Consulate General of Pakistan in Toronto, started with a working lunch while Mr. Asghar Golo, Dr. Akram Sheikh and Dr. Reza Moridi delivered their speeches on the relationship between Canada and Pakistan in education, trade and other areas. Mr. Samir Dossal and Dr. Qaadri were the moderators.

In his remarks CG Golo highlighted that “the Government of Pakistan has identified higher education as the crucial area of focus for the socio-economic development of the country. Pakistan requires adequate support as well as international partnership in the higher education to equip the country to face the challenges of the 21st century. There is a need: to align education with business needs; to bridge the gap between industry and academia; to assess global trends in higher education, industry linkages, entrepreneurship, research & development opportunities, curriculum designing & refinement, and teaching methodologies.” He requested Hon. Dr Reza Moridi and Hon Dr Shafiq Qaadri to support higher education in Pakistan.

The points Dr Akram Sheikh and Dr. Moridi raised generated productive discussion that is summarized below:

There has been long and friendly relationship existing between Canada and Pakistan for decades. Canada has been helping Pakistan in many areas specifically in the energy sector such as building of Karachi Nuclear Power Plant and Warsak Dam. The current trade between the two countries, mutual investments and collaboration are at a level that shows huge potential for growth. A number of areas were identified for action during the discussion that can help enhance the economic activity between the two countries. Important ones are summarized in the following.

  1. Education:This area has several components that can be pursued in parallel. These include:a. Increase in graduate student population in Canada from Pakistanb. Joint Degree programs between Pakistan and Canadian Universitiesc. Develop nodes of technology in Pakistan that can be utilized by Canadian industry and business

    d. Establish scholarship programs for students in Pakistani universities to encourage excellence as well as scholarships for Pakistani students in Canada.

    e. Training of technicians and tradesmen in Pakistan by Canadian experts. There are about 25,000 to 30,000 people who retire only from the army and are under 40 years of age. They along with other similar individuals form a receptive group of people that can be trained for various trades with significant benefits to the economy through productivity enhancements.

  2. Housing: Currently, there is a known need of about 8 millions houses in Pakistan which offers a huge potential for the Canadian housing and pre-cast industry, lumber industry and other businesses in the housing sector.
  3. Mining: Canada has extensive expertise in mining and Pakistan has the natural resources that need exploitation. Collaboration in this field will be mutually beneficial.
  4. Energy Sector: Pakistan has a large demand for electricity that requires, in addition to other generation methods, development and construction of new nuclear power plants. Canada has state-of-the-art technology in this sector. It is recognized that this area offers serious challenges from a point of safety and unauthorized proliferation. A proposal was forwarded that an Operators Group should be developed that is responsible for operating the plants in countries like Pakistan. The host country would buy the electricity generated such from the Operators Group.
  5. Other possible areas of cooperation and collaboration include banking and financial services, transportation planning, and agriculture and agro-based industries.

A lively and productive discussion ensued for about two hours. A number of suggestions were presented and discussed. It was decided that Task Groups should be developed for each of the areas listed above and they should develop procedures to move forward with specific goals. Dr. Akram Sheikh also suggested that Convenors for the Task Groups should be selected by CPBC. These Convenors under the leadership of CPBC President, Mr Dossal, will then work with Amer Hashmi, Advisor NUST following the MOU that has already been signed by the two organizations.
The two Groups, Corporate Advisory Council (CAC) and the Global Think-Tank Network (GTTN), both associated with NUST can provide the platform for expatriates who are keen to contribute to the welfare of Pakistan and further the relationship between Pakistan and Canada.
CLOSING:

  • A formal announcement of the formation of a Task Force in the Field of Education to be expected by the end of the year.
  • Hon. Bryon Wilfert eloquently summarized the proceedings of the session
  • Mr Akhil Tyagi, Area Director, International Branch of the Government of Ontario extended his continued support and presented a vote of thanks

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