ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) announced on Tuesday that if elected to power it will invest $2 billion in the IT sector over five years to increase export earnings, create jobs for young people and fight corruption.

In a video played at the launch of PTI’s draft digital policy, chairman Imran Khan said: “PTI’s digital policy will transform Pakistan into a knowledge economy, making the IT sector the top contributor to Pakistan’s exports and job creation.

“Like neighbouring India, Pakistan will boost IT exports to increase government earnings. Above all, investment in IT will ensure transparency and efficiency, the tools needed to fight rampant corruption.”

Pakistan buried under a mountain of debt and losing $2bn a month, Asad Umar says

Former MNA Asad Umar told the press briefing that Pakistan was buried under a mountain of debt and losing $2bn a month.

“According to the Planning Commission, some two million youngsters enter the job market. It is the government’s responsibility to create opportunities where talented individuals can find work. PTI’s digital policy is the answer to these three problems,” he said.

Mr Umar added that the policy was developed in consultation with representatives from the IT industry, academia and other stakeholders. He said it would focus on improving education and work ethics that do not meet global standards.

He said that the IT sector had been neglected for the last 15 years or so, when the Musharraf government did not invest in human resource.

“The IT sector was most neglected during the rule of the PPP, when it did not have an IT minister for five years. The IT sector suffered more when the previous PML-N government did not take ownership of the industry either,” he said.

The IT industry will only flourish when the top leadership commits itself to a digital economy, like in India, he claimed.

“Imran Khan has pledged to lead the IT sector after coming into power.”

Principles of the policy include investing in people and the service sector, long-term policies and programmes, the creation of an environment conducive to business through the reduction of tax rates and an increase in access to foreign markets for exports by training government officials and giving leadership to the expat community to elevate Pakistan.

Under the policy, the party has planned scholarships for 50,000 students a year at reputable education centres and the creation of 100,000 graduates.

The digital policy will also address concerns related to agriculture and national security, and recommends fast internet access and 25 million square feet of office space.

During the briefing, comparisons were drawn between Pakistan’s IT industry and that of other countries in the region. Pakistan’s total exports stand at just $2bn, an insignificant number compared to India’s $127bn and $26bn in the Philippines. Pakistan employs 125,000 IT professionals compared to 2m in the Philippines.

Published in Dawn, July 4th, 2018