ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf, PTI on Tuesday launched its digital policy here in Islamabad at a local hotel.
The Policy was presented by CEO DPL IT Syed Ahmad. It promises to convert Pakistan into a knowledge economy and opening IT jobs and export opportunities in the country if PTI comes to power.
Asad Umar claimed that about 8,75000 jobs will be generated in the IT sector and 50, 000 scholarships will be given to high achieving students if this policy is implemented.
The policy commits to a number of things including generating 875,000 jobs in IT, offering scholarships to 50,000 students, a $2 billion digital transformation initiative and plans to reduce corruption by digitizing government offices and build a public-private partnership. It also includes updating of PPRA rules, open data policy, and emphasis on national cyber security policies and data protection laws.
The announcement comes ahead of election 2018 and will be part of their manifesto as mentioned by Syed Ahmed.
During the launch, Syed Ahmad said that the policy was created after consultations with the IT industry and that PTI would launch a final draft just before the elections with further amendments after consulting public at large.
Highlighting the top issues of the IT industry in Pakistan, the presenter Syed Ahmad, pointed towards the worsening quality of IT education in the country due to which quality human resource was not available.
Mr. Ahmad stated that Pakistan ranked below 100 in most network readiness indices. It’s IT exports were only $2 billion compared to 127 billion of India and employees only 125,000 IT/ BPO professionals, “Pakistan has failed to convert its freelance industry into the small business industry and small business into medium businesses and so on,” said Syed Ahmad. He further said that introducing government-sponsored projects would mend the infrastructural issues and make enabling policies with respect to IT in the country.
PTI leader Asad Umar, who was also present at the event, regretted that Pakistan was 20 years behind its progress in IT and had failed to induce an environment which would facilitate the growth of IT and improve foreign policies of the country, “The government should create an enabling environment for business and not run them”, he said during the launch.
“Hence long-term policies and programmes are needed. The plan is to transform Pakistan into a knowledge economy, work on tech clusters”, remarked Mr. Asad.
Asad Umar stated that their government will patronize knowledge economy. “The policy includes developments and facilitation of major tech clusters through special economic zones in the first year of coming to power.”
Asad Umar pointed to the low quality of work ethics and education in Pakistan, “Maths and English education will be improved by providing training to the educators”.
He said PTI would work towards increasing Pakistan’s exports to $10 billion after assuming power from the current $2 billion. He mentioned that they planned to invest a sum of $350 billion into the Information Technology.
During the question answer session, when asked about the cyber security and data protection laws to which Syed Ahmad replied that 10% of the budget will be dedicated to this cause, “Through the national cell of cyber security a national center will be made, where not only on the government level will data infrastructure and privacy be ensured but also policies will be enforced for both private industry and people working on knowledge economy.”
Media Matters for Democracy published their annual publication titled “The Internet Governance and Digital Rights Monitor: Mapping Digital Rights Situation in Pakistan” that discussed in details the challenges faced by digital rights during 2017-2018.
Annam Lodhi is a Program Manager at Media Matters for Democracy