PM asks Facebook to support Pakistani startups

Updated January 23, 2020

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DAVOS: YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki speaks to Prime Minister Imran Khan on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum annual meeting on Wednesday.­—INP
DAVOS: YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki speaks to Prime Minister Imran Khan on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum annual meeting on Wednesday.­—INP

KARACHI: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday met several heads of digital and technology firms, including Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg and YouTube Chief Executive Officer Susan Wojcicki.

During the meetings held on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum (WEF), the prime minister invited the tech firms to invest in Pakistan. He asked Facebook to consider investments to support Pakistani incubators and help in digital literacy initiatives.

According to a press release, the premier said social media platforms should establish third-party fact-checking services for more responsible digital journalism.

Sheryl Sandberg invited Prime Minister Khan to visit Facebook headquarters.

Talking about future cooperation and investment in Pakistan, Facebook said it was committed to supporting the country's growth as a digital economy and society.

"We’re doing this through several, meaningful programmes in Pakistan including: Innovation Lab, SheMeansBusiness and WeThinkDigital cooperation with Pakistan," Sarim Aziz, head of public policy Pakistan told Dawn after the meeting.

The meeting was attended by Special Assistant to the Prime Minister Syed Zulfiqar Abbas Bukhari, Ambassador Ali Jehangir Siddiqui, State Bank Governor Raza Baqir and head of Digital Pakistan Tania Aidrus.

Invites tech firms to promote responsible digital journalism...

YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki also called on Prime Minister Khan in Davos. Discussions on utilising digital platforms for building Pakistan’s image were held. The Pakistani entourage also discussed the possibilities of promoting tourism, education and attracting investment through digital platforms.

Tania Aidrus said on Twitter that in the “great meeting”, the two sides discussed efforts to support the thriving content creator community in Pakistan and how the country can work with YouTube to promote responsible digital journalism.

The meeting comes days after the prime minister held an interaction with leading influencers of YouTube and digital publishers in Islamabad. It had deliberated on the opportunities for youths in the digital media sector, allied challenges and their resolution.

According to PM’s focal person on digital media Arslan Khalid, the meetings with YouTube and Facebook were in line with the government agenda to expand the digital footprint of tech companies to Pakistan.

“The prime minister is committed to bringing a revolution in the digital media industry and building an economy around it to create more jobs for our youths,” he told Dawn.

The prime minister also met Telenor chairperson Gunn Waersted and CEO Sigve Brekke. Mr Khan appreciated Telenor’s confidence in Pakistan due to its presence in the country since 2005 with an investment of around $3.5 billion. He also emphasised the government’s focus on investment in training and development of youths for skills enhancement.

Discussions were held on enhancing application of digital solutions for good governance, poverty alleviation through use of connectivity and increased economic transactions through mobile.

Telenor reiterated its strong commitment to Pakistan’s technology sector and shared their ideas on developing the sector.

The prime minister also met the chief operating officer of SAP — a European software cooperation. During the meeting, Christian Klein expressed SAP’s commitment to training young software engineers in Germany and using them for software development in Pakistan, a tweet from the Prime Minister Office said.

Mr Klein made the comment after Prime Minister Khan offered SAP to establish software labs in Pakistan.

Published in Dawn, January 23rd, 2020