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Lets start things by making a checklist of all the things we can do. Eradicate honor killings, Nope; get rid of corruption from our system, ha ha. Eliminate poverty, nah; become an IT Power, yes but in a few years. No prizes for guessing which subject I am speaking for. Thats right I am going to speak for IT- An opportunity for Pakistan. What is IT?
Information technology is a term that encloses all forms of technology used to create, store, exchange, and use information in its various forms. It's a convenient term for including both telephony and computer technology in the same word. Oooh. That was too technical wasnt it?
Many of you may not even have understood what I just said. Lemme rephrase it. IT is the road to success. The IT revolution is the fastest growing revolution seen by mankind. The global scenario is changing, as the world has gotten closer. Weve all seen the Jetsons havent we?
Do you think our lives will be similar? Well guess what if you consider IT, maybe! Pakistan has a golden opportunity of becoming an IT power. We should seize this opportunity before its too late.
We have to revolutionize our Information Technology Infrastructure. Our country with a population of 140 million people is a strategically placed country in South Asia. Why is it that we have to match our main competitor and rival when it comes to Defense? Why cant we match brains over brawn? All that money flushed down the drain. Gee.
We should build ourselves as an IT nation and not a military super power. So Mr. Musharraf if you are listening somewhere please divert some of the military funds towards IT. We have lots of Natural resources, a respectable telecommunications system and a well-established banking infrastructure and what use is it to us. Look at Singapore, no natural resources but it is richer than us. We must be doing something wrong, dont u think?
Imagine a scenario where there is a country, which has no natural resources, no technology, soaring inflation, and recession. Wake up people. Thats us. Look at us, we have natural resources, technology but yet we fit the image of your friendly beggar asking for alms from the rich lil people. Would you like to go abroad and have people say, Isnt that the guy from that country whom we gave alms to?
Why dont we get up and start doing something for a change? Wake up and smell the humus. Why dont we use the same technology the west is using and gain something from it. No more begging, no more pans. No more foreigners dirty looks. I guess someone did smell the humus.
That man is Dr. Ata Ur Rehman. The science and technology ministry under his guidance has made things easier for everyone. If it werent for him we would be sitting around and begging for technology. Isnt that a riot? The great country we are, we did not possess an IT policy.
Dr. Rehman implemented an IT policy with help from prominent Pakistani IT professionals based in the US. All this IT buzz around us is due to Dr. Rehman. If only we had more men like him. To cut matters short the IT industry has been exempted from taxed and duties for a period of 5 years.
Its also made availability of loans much easier for software firms. So all you loan defaulters dont get any ideas. We need to have about 40, 000 IT professionals each year in order make a Billion dollars. (Gee if we had done that earlier, we would have been in like millionaires). Our excellent IT Institutes and colleges gave us 9000 graduates.
The end result was that we got low dividends as most of the graduates were of a substandard quality. So In order to ensure that we dont make the same mistake again the government has set a target of 100, 000 IT high quality graduates each year. To cut matters short they are setting up several universities to provide subsidized education of international standards. A distance-learning program has been initiated to teach IT skills to people from different parts of the country.
Amen to that. Even if we manage to achieve half the target its going to be a miracle. Hallelujah We need to have a proper infrastructure in telecommunications; before we could go around the world making tall claims claiming to be the best. We currently have a 100 percent fiber optic backbone. Although the Internet is in 325 cities around Pakistan we dont have any broadband backbone. All business companies and educational facilities need broadband.
Thats like manna from the heavens. I guess God must have heard our prayers as this problem is being addressed by the introduction of new technologies such as DSL, ADSL and cable modems by our friendly telephone company PTCL. Mission impossible maybe? Nah Pakistan is getting ready to join the club as the IT sector is flourishing. A lot of activity has been taking place. IT institutes are springing up faster than you can say Jack Robinson.
There has been an explosion of IT companies that deal in Portals, Websites, WAP, Databases, E-Commerce Solutions and Software Development. Lots of companies are re engineering their strategy and the way they operate by converting all their information into databases. Business solutions and E-commerce solutions are their first priority. Web development and hosting, graphic designing and databases are fast gaining popularity. E-commerce has finally taken off in Pakistan.
Lots of Pakistani companies have developed e-business plans. This is due to their confidence in the IT/E-commerce policy. The state bank of Pakistan has finally given its approval for Merchant Bank Accounts. Banks like Citibank, MCB and Standard Charted Grindlays have announced their plans to launch Merchant Bank accounts by March 2001. E-commerce laws have also been prepared and are now in the process of being examined by the Law Division so that e-commerce laws can be implemented in the country.
Pilot projects are being reviewed and set up even as I speak. Pakistan has finally attracted the attention of the world. The IT policy is very promising and thus lots of companies are interested in setting up shop here. Investments of over Rs 12 billion have been announced alone in the telecommunication and IT sector with more commitments on the way. Big shot companies such as Oracle, Microsoft, CISCO, and CERN are a handful of companies investing in Pakistan. We are even attracting investment from an Indian company that wants to set up shop here.
This is only the beginning. The Information Technology revolution has given us a vision of the future. We have a long way to go. We need a facilitating environment so Pakistan can be a power to reckon with in the field of Information Technology within 3 - 4 years. Pakistan is considered to be in the third wave of developing economies. We are one of the hottest countries in the Third world to invest in IT.
If we implement all these steps we can ensure that we are on the road to El Dorado and we can join the rat race. We should market ourselves well and not be lethargic. The government can only act as a regulatory body and ensure that there are no hindrances on the way. We should not get up and boogie instead we should get up and do some IT. We have a lot of potential. I say that I am going to be part of the IT revolution which will sweep our country, you will be part of the revolution, she will be part of the revolution, we all will be part of the revolution and make our country proud.
Unlike most of my opponents, I do not possess the ability to bang the podium to make my point. I leave my case with you. Bibliography:
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