Contributed by: SYED ADI SHAH
Although we started in late 80’s, Pakistan has already become to contribute a respectable share in the world of Information Technology worldwide, especially the last decade has proved very significant in the grooming of IT industry in our country. The Information Technology burst has provided Pakistan a dream for future in which IT can be used to improve the standards of our people. It can help us develop our lives better by tapping the common benefits of the Internet, and it can also aid to move further than the digital divide to digital opportunity.
Government of Pakistan has been taking deep interest in making the IT industry of Pakistan a strong one. In this regard, the Federal Cabinet passed National IT Policy in August 2000, according to which Government will act as enabler to produce an IT based future economy. There are a number of important features in this policy like human resource development, IT infrastructure development, efficiency and transparency in Government, improve services to citizens, stimulate the domestic economy and increase exports, etc. Government of Pakistan is reengineering its old processes to improve the efficiency. They are employing IT to improve the speed of communication and keep track of its performance. For this purpose, they have shifted all the data from paper to electronic form which will increase transparency and measurement of functional performance in quantifiable form. This way every part and person of government will be accountable for its doing.
The first and foremost need is to develop human resources in the field of IT. Currently Pakistan has lesser number of people than the actual required count in order to compete worldwide. We are in need of producing thousands of high quality IT graduates every year. Keeping this purpose in mind, many initiatives have been taken to increase the capacity of existing institutions and to build the new ones. These universities will impart education related to IT field. New higher education programs have been set and, for this purpose, new faculty is induced. Moreover, there are new vocational training plans in which sessions are held to train more than 100,000 knowledge workers for IT enabled services at any given time.
There is a strong need to build a powerful infrastructure of IT. Pakistan has developed a modern telecom infrastructure which is accessible throughout the country and it is available at an affordable price. This will help in developing Pakistan as a regional hub of information flow and telecommunication. Pakistan is also using geo satellite to make communication broadcast available in the remote areas of Pakistan and also its neighboring countries.
We know that internet has become a vital part of everyone’s life now. There were days when internet vas a costly service to buy, but with the advancement of technology and competition among various internet service providers and telecommunication companies, it has become affordable to everyone. Many companies are still struggling to increase the number of cities where internet would be available. Statistics say that there were only 29 cities where internet was available in 2000. Now there are almost 722 cities where people can access internet. This is the reason why internet is available to schools, colleges, offices, and even homes on very affordable price.
There are quite a few hundreds of software houses in Pakistan and the count is increasing rapidly. These software houses are working to make Pakistan a bright mark in the world of IT. They are producing many useful products which have modernized the processes of traditional industries and also increased their productivity. It has enabled our export industry to become more competitive in international market. As we see, computer has become a significant part of every walk of our lives and many processes have become automatic now. All the big shopping malls have computerized billing system now. Almost every organization keeps its data in computerized form. Students, both from basic and higher education, seek help from internet and prepare their assignments on computer.
Computer and internet awareness is also increasing and the trend of e-commerce is emerging fast. People, whatever field they belong to, consult internet for any queries which come into mind. Moreover, Government of Pakistan has opened computer labs in many school and colleges to make awareness of IT common.
Many countries prefer outsourcing manpower within Pakistan because they find Pakistani IT persons intelligent, hardworking and committed. They provide their services at low price which enables us to bring in good investment opportunities in our country. This scenario is also helpful making more job opportunities available in the country.
On the whole, the future of IT in Pakistan is very bright. Our IT policy has given Pakistan special courage to compete in today’s world of IT. It has enabled Pakistan to stand amongst the top countries with respect to IT and it is improving day by day. With the same dedication and good planning, it will continue to grow in future. Information technology is on the right track in our country and its future is also very bright !