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Innovation Culture in Pakistan

Ali Imran

This writer is a founder and brand ambassador of Unifi Education.

We need to foster a culture of innovation if we really want to accelerate our growth in the years to come. The problem with Pakistan is not a lack of talented individuals; it’s the environment that the authorities fail to provide to them to create the future. By creating the future, we mean technology. By creating the future, we mean sustainable solutions that can help solve domestic issues like the water crisis inherent in our society. By creating the future, we mean alleviating our masses from poverty by creating employment opportunities for them. When you allow talented individuals and give them the resources and the environment to fulfill their vision, we can expect outcomes from this country.

The successes that we have had so far are despite the system, not because of the system. Yes, we’ve had startups that have proven success can be achieved in this region. But do we acknowledge how difficult it is? Do we understand that startups are super difficult to even otherwise and when we have unnecessary obstacles created for entrepreneurs, what impact it’s going to have on the movement? We are all killing innovation. Startups are one example – But generally, we’re killing innovation.

Why? A student is now scared of producing something innovative because he’s afraid the authorities will misunderstand or not at all understand his efforts and take him away. There’s a fear in the mindset of individuals to put their mental abilities to use when innovation is discussed from the Pakistani perspective. We should applaud if innovation is coming out of Pakistan. It’s something to be proud of for everybody. What do we do instead? We impose heavy taxation on them. We put them under the radar. We restrict them to the best of our ability and handicap them to the extent that they cannot move – they’re now paralyzed. What does this do? This not only hinders their growth, but the nascent ecosystem in itself doesn’t grow because you’ve set an example of how people are treated if they follow their innovative aspirations in the country. The government and authorities need to support the innovative minds in the country because it is something that can truly be pivotal to bringing Pakistan to the top. Pakistani minds are second to none in the world, but there’s the fear instilled in the minds of our youngsters. There have been cases where people have been attempting to innovate and instead of support, everything possible hindrance of all kinds was put in their way.

Why do you think it’s so difficult for this country to retain its top talent? If a startup doing too well, instead of the authorities being supportive, they come under the radar. Radar that’s willing to kill the baby startup that could perhaps yield tremendous benefits for the country. What happened to the guy who made a car that ran on water? There was news like that, right? Then he just disappeared? When we heard that someone tried to fly a drone or something that he created from scratch, what happened to that person? He was found in jail later.

The point here is we need to develop a culture of fostering innovation. Yes we have had our pinup superstars in the ecosystem like Careem, but they didn’t happen because of the system, they happened despite it. If we can have successes despite systematic support, why can’t we work towards developing an environment where perhaps innovation is applauded? People aren’t jailed for innovating, but the Government awards them for their efforts. People leave Pakistan, go out, and do their startup or innovation there. People migrate to other countries for jobs from Pakistan. Another segment is the people who are doing well financially but they find themselves able to do much more outside the country, especially when it comes to innovative initiatives.

The message to the youth is to innovate and follow their dreams. We, together, can bring about a culture of innovation in Pakistan through continuous effort in innovating and, most importantly, creating awareness of how important innovation is.

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