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Monday 6th February 2023 / 15 Rejab 1444

Digitalizing Pakistan

If you have ever visited a government department then you would know how bureaucratic red tape leads to an extremely slow pace of work. Things may change now as Prime Minister Imran Khan has launched the ambitious ‘Digital Pakistan’ program.
The scheme is a revolutionary step vital for the sustainable development of the country. There will be friction in its implementation due to the vast informal economy and those resisting tax reforms. PM Imran Khan regretted not having started the initiative much earlier but stated that institutions opposing shifting to digital platforms would not be able to stop them any longer.  
The project will be headed by Tania Adrius, a senior Google executive who quit a lucrative job in Singapore and returned to Pakistan. PM Imran hailed her decision saying that people who take tough decisions succeed in life. Adrius also expressed optimism towards the initiative, stating that we need to make a commitment to be part of the revolution and work together to move forward. 
There are five strategic pillars of the new initiative: Access and Connectivity, Digital Infrastructure, E-Governance, Digital Skills and Literacy, and Innovation and Entrepreneurship. The foremost pillar is access and connectivity which will ensure that every Pakistani has access to the internet as a fundamental right. 
The e-government initiative that digitizes intra-government operations will play a key role towards a paperless and efficient environment. This basically means getting rid of the file culture which is the bane of government offices. PM Imran Khan said that the introduction of e-governance will be essential to combating the corruption epidemic and make people’s lives easier.
The government faces an enormous challenge when it comes to revenue generation and documentation of the economy. Digitization can help solve the challenge. This is also one of the key requirements of the IMF bailout package and as well as commitment for removal from the grey list by the FATF.
There are many challenges that the initiative will face. Paypal has refused to come to Pakistan for the foreseeable future and tech giants still do not see the country as a lucrative market. The Digital Pakistan program is nonetheless a step in the right direction to build a technologically advanced and digitalized country.
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