Pakistan & CERN: Finally there

This post was pending for a long time.

In June 2014, Pakistani newspaper DAWN quoted the Pakistani Ministry of Foreign Affairs to break news that the decision to include Pakistan among CERN’s associate members had been made. CERN is the world’s largest particle physics laboratory, famous for its groundbreaking research and the Large Hadron Collider particle accelerators. Throughout 2013, I had reported on this story, talking primarily with officials from the National Centre for Physics in Islamabad, whose scientists have worked closely with CERN in the past, and at some occasions, CERN officials themselves. In June, however, there was no official confirmation that the associate membership status, for which Pakistan had been trying for a while, had been awarded.

It took a few months for that official confirmation to arrive, but it’s here now. In fact, it has been official for just over a month now.

Pakistan’s associate member status was sealed at a ceremony in Islamabad on Dec 19, 2014, in the presence of PM Nawaz Sharif. Here’s a video of the ceremony with a short speech by the prime minister.

“CERN can offer numerous opportunities to our young scientists and engineers to benefit from state-of-art expertise available at CERN and the associated European laboratories,” Sharif said. “There should be a comprehensive programme to achieve this objective. I have asked the Chairman Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission to work closely with the Higher Education Commission and the Ministry of Science & Technology to develop and chart out a future programme so our youth can have maximum benefit of this opportunity.”

“Pakistan has been a strong participant in CERN’s endeavours in science and technology since the 1990s,” said CERN Director-General Rolf-Heuer, in a CERN press release. “Bringing nations together in a peaceful quest for knowledge and education is one of the most important missions of CERN. Welcoming Pakistan as a new Associate Member State is therefore for our Organization a very significant event and I’m looking forward to enhanced cooperation with Pakistan in the near future.””

According to CERN, the “Associate Membership of Pakistan will open a new era of cooperation that will strengthen the long-term partnership between CERN and the Pakistani scientific community. Associate Membership will allow Pakistan to participate in the governance of CERN, through attending the meetings of the CERN Council. Moreover, it will allow Pakistani scientists to become members of the CERN staff, and to participate in CERN’s training and career-development programmes. Finally, it will allow Pakistani industry to bid for CERN contracts, thus opening up opportunities for industrial collaboration in areas of advanced technology.”


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