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PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif addresses a public meeting in Mingora, Swat. — Dawn Photo
PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif addresses a public meeting in Mingora, Swat. — Dawn Photo

Reproduced below is the Information Technology and e-Government section of PML-N's 110-page Manifesto. It's definitely an ambitious and well thought-out plan, and if they manage to form the next government, we hope they execute as much of it as possible. Please have a read and let us know your thoughts.

In the spirit of democratic governance, revolutionary polices and visionary approach, we will give very high priority to the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector. It is our belief that in today’s global economic and technological dynamics, ICT plays a vital role in national development, good governance, and public services.The world is evolving rapidly into a knowledge-based economy. Hence the ICT sector must become a primary sector at the national level. PML(N) will evolve an active ICT policy and a new ICT regulatory framework to create 1 million new direct and indirect jobs.

The development of Pakistan into an information society and knowledge economy will be accomplished by building on and strengthening four pillars:

a) Governance

b) Public Services

c) Local Software Economy, and

d) Technology

1. Governance – The public sector will play a major role as an enabler, producer and use of e/m applications and digital content through the following specific measures:

a. Introduce and integrate ICT at the working and operational levels of all major ministries and departments. Operational efficiency of all major projects will be maximized through ICT.

b. Establish an e-Government portal at federal and provincial levels and convert manual approval processes to automated processes thus reducing the ‘file culture’. Use of ICT and automation will be a priority in law enforcement, judiciary, health, education, manufacturing, taxation and transportation sectors.

c. Automate all citizens’ databases, including land and property records in an integrated manner to create a master database of citizens at the national level that contains all relevant information such as NADRA data, FBR data, land records, property data, vehicle ownership, and arms data. This will facilitate transition towards a documented economy and will significantly expand the tax net.

d. Create and implement performance monitoring dashboards for all major ministries, provincial, district and city governments, and major national projects.

e. Demonstrate respect for Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) at the government level, evolving legislation to protect IPR and ensuring enforcement of the relevant laws in letter and spirit.

f. Create an autonomous organization to investigate and prevent cyber crimes.

2. Public Services - Will be improved through the use of information technology by:

a. Expanding access to knowledge through e-libraries, computer-based vocational trainings, online journals and periodicals.

b. Bridging rural-urban digital divide by establishing 500 ICT centers in smaller cities and towns to reduce the knowledge gap and break rural isolation.

c. Expanding IT labs and access to laptops in the education sector across Pakistan, as already demonstrated by PML(N) in Punjab.

d. Promoting the use of e-Commerce and branch-less banking maximizing the online availability of information for citizens (such as crop & consumer price indexes for farmers & citizens).

e. Promoting and facilitating software industry to develop country-specific content for the customer to be accessed through 4G and Long Term Evolution (LTE) networks and other advanced technologies.

f. Standardized information about public services will be made available through call centers and text messages, in addition to internet, to ensure widest access to citizens from all sections of society.

g. Wide penetration of cell phones in all sections of society will be leveraged to proactively seek feedback from citizens, disseminate public service messages, and increase citizens engagement.

3. Local Software Economy – Promote the local software industry to generate annual exports of at least US$ 10 billion by 2020:

a. Revise IT curriculum in higher education to ensure that the students are imparted most advanced and relevant technology concepts, thus creating a pool of world-class workforce.

b. Provide appropriate incentives to the hardware and software industry including start-up assistance to new software houses to promote entrepreneurship.

c. Development of IT parks in major cities that will offer world-class infrastructure for IT companies to operate without any impediments to their business and facilitate interaction with academia, industry and other stakeholders.

d. Position Pakistan as a destination of choice in the region for offshore ICT business establishment and investors.

e. When appropriate, include a ‘technology transfer’ and ‘percentage local development and content’ clause in future government projects.

f. Adherence to relevant international ICT standards will be ensured with regards to certification and processes.

4. Technology Dissemination – A comprehensive programme will be launched to ensure fast track induction of modern ICT technologies through:

a. Frog leap from 2.5G to 4G/LTE. The window of opportunity to deploy 5 year old 3G has passed.

b. Develop a network of (renewable energy-based) kiosks in rural communities and poor urban centers to facilitate access to information (agriculture prices for farmers) and facilitate e-commerce.

c. Leverage ICT R&D fund to establish Centers of Excellence in different universities to foster research and innovation.

d. Improve the working of the Universal Services Fund (USF) and utilize its resources to bridge rural-urban digital divide and establish Wi-Fi hotspots.

e. Unplug the unique interactive quality of Social Media to promote innovation, collaboration and entrepreneurship by engaging, soliciting ideas, listening and learning from customers, suppliers, employees and all sectors of society. Promote strategic adoption of social media by businesses, organizations and government institutions to improve discrete functions and practices and remain relevant to all their stakeholders. Through these programmes every effort will be made to reduce the digital divide between urban and rural areas and enhance access to government services and business opportunities in all parts of Pakistan as an important component of democratic governance.

Comments (15) Closed

Anis May 15, 2013 08:03pm
Let me start with saying that I am a PTI voter but I admit that these priorities are impressive and seem to be steps in the right direction. The goals are aggressive but achievable. Would definitely like to see details and how they want to achieve these goals. For the current software industry few key issues are a: quality resources availability, infrastructure, and international security concerns attributed to Pakistani companies. The first two seem to be addressed in the plan but not the third one. My suggestion will be to to not only invest in technology park but also in technology cities. I know I am dreaming but if we have a small IT city that has its own airport, universities and extremely tight security, hotels then perhaps we can land eight figure ($ multi-million) contracts and reach the $10 Billion target. A Tax free area where we even allow Indian big companies to come and utilize our workforce, with local partnership. A mini-Banglore for us; with hundreds of CMMI ML5 companies. Let me shed some light on the first two issues as well. In Lahore, for example, there are less than 500 individuals coming out of good universities who are snatched by all the software houses here. (The number of programmers pass out of universities is high but we are talking about quality resources, rest stay unemployed or under employed). This shortage increases the asking salaries of programmers. When we add this high salary to high cost of electricity, generators/UPS cost, infrastructure costs, we end up with Pakistan resource being so expensive that many in the software industry are now considering outsourcing their own work in China. The end result is Pakistan becoming a less attractive destination for outsourcing. Lets all hope that these three issues are taken care of by this new government and we can attract $10B worth of business to PK. If we do, we sure will see a different Pakistan, Insha-Allah.
KamranZ May 14, 2013 02:09pm
I actually find the whole document to be quite vague and abstract. Some parts are too optimistic. Such as the export forecast for the local software economy. The jump to 4G from 2.5G also seems a bit dubious. Don't know if it's doable like that. I do sincerely hope that they do achieve some (all of it will certainly not be possible in 5 years) of their aims and objectives. I feel that the curriculum for Matric and Intermediate schooling systems is much better in Punjab and at the federal level and feel it must be made better and implemented in other provinces as well.
Yawar May 16, 2013 01:42am
Nothing on computer hardware manufacturing?
Jalaluddin S. Hussain May 14, 2013 11:55pm
The new government should establish priorities, which should include abolishing feudalism and spreading basic education.
faaziz May 15, 2013 11:26am
Talk is cheap. See you in 5 years.
KHALID Butt May 14, 2013 05:01pm
I am very happy that the new government is going to do all that is needed in this sphere. God bless Pakistan and PML government, my prayers are with you..
Absar May 14, 2013 03:35pm
The most important factor is to have the right management experience to run the industry. This reads like Malaysian ITC agenda which was set by Mahathir Mohammed, the difference is that Malay government pumped in millions to lure foreign investors and ended up having sweat shops. It takes at least 3 to 5 years to develop software exporting industry. 10 billion is more a wishful thing on part of the involved advisors while other countries like Vietnam, Thailand and Malaysia trying to do the same Now Pakistan wants to jump the ITC bandwagon whereby the essential communication infrastructure needs a complete revamp. More to come in next post.
Isolationism May 14, 2013 03:42pm
I want the next elections on Thumb impression, whether a person is at home or abroad, he just have to go to a integrated website where he can just fill up his details and lastly thumb print which should be verified by NADRA.. Rigging is no more tolerated!
Akram May 14, 2013 04:00pm
some interesting ideas, however as they say the proof of the pudding is in the eating. progress to an e-economy will have profound benefits for Pakistan particularly as the current cash economy will be better documented and lead to a better ability to tax the tax dodgers.
Syed May 14, 2013 04:23pm
Great !! and dont forget to encourage local companies to build and develop thier own IT infrastructure like we see in lot of other multinational companies.
KHALID Butt May 14, 2013 05:03pm
First of all you tube which has lot of educational material should be opened.
Sami May 15, 2013 05:11am
And don't forget power generation to enable IT to work...
Forward Thinker May 15, 2013 07:40am
I'll be rather surprised if the are able to accomplish, say, 5% of this plan. If they are (miraculously) able to implement the above manifesto in true letter and spirit, we could witness an e-revolution.
Fayzee May 15, 2013 08:32am
Very impressive indeed!! Will require real hard and sincere efforts to reach half of that in the first five years.
KhanChangezKhan May 15, 2013 08:51am
Change is a dream for us. No change will happen as we have experience in the past all governing political parties. The changes comes only in their bank accounts and properties as well as in dollars that becomes Rupees 100 from Rupees 20 a dollar and this might be went on Rupees 120-150 during next five years during the present regime of government.