The annual profit for international manufacturers of lasers and optics is around several billions of dollars, but Pakistan has not reached that far due to lack of development of the laser technology. Pakistan still needs to work on laser technology through raising the level of education and its applications. Laser technology is applied in defence, energy, communications and information processing, data storage, entertainment, manufacturing and material processing for cutting, shaping, drilling, welding, surface hardening, besides other things.
In Pakistan, fabrication of some laser parts have been manufactured on a small scale, but their operation still remains difficult according to the Chairperson, Dr.Mudasar Asrar, of Pakistan Council of Science and Technology (PCST). Laser technology is being used in Pakistan for micromachining, catalysing, chemical processes, environmental monitoring and remote sensing, therapeutics medicine, surgery, cosmetic and medical technology, analytical and forensic science, biosciences, printing, barcode reading, and in other scientific and industrial research areas.
With the progress of laser technology, more new applications are being discovered. Laser technology is said to be the most diversified field yet in terms of its uses and applications. According to the Chairperson of PCST, cost considerations should not be made when it comes to laser technology and suggested that there must be an independent Institute of Lasers and Photonics “outside [of] the strategic organisations”.
The first step toward developing Pakistan’s indigenous laser technology capacity building is required along with training highly skilled human resources, including scientists, engineers, and technologists. There needs to be facilities for design and fabrication of prototype laser systems, optical components, and other related instruments. To get man-power it is necessary that awareness is created about laser technology which will interest students to become specialised in this field.
The local industry has to increase the use of laser technology and to do all this there has to be a governing body which supervises the development. Often creating these platforms involves a lot of bureaucratic hustle and tend to get subjugated with incompetence over capability. However, there needs to be a proper functioning institute that will provide these guidelines under which policies can be formulated. Till now, the whole endeavour is academic, with less participation from the industrial side.
The Ministry of Science and Technology wants to publish research and technical reports, journals and conference papers, workshops and conferences, training courses and public lectures that will promote awareness and interest. There exists a National Programme on Lasers and Photonics that will create pathway for this. However, there must a participation from the industrial sector as well as the private sector in partnership with the government to take laser technology to the next level in Pakistan.