Pakistan hopes to leap up the list of ease-of-doing business

by Rahma Javed on October 23, 2019 | Images Source Social Media

A More Peaceful Pakistan Puts On An IT Charm Offensive In Silicon Valley

Pakistan ambassador to the United States Asad Majeed Khan said Pakistan is set to take the next stage of development with hopes to increase the list of ease-of-doing business by 20 to 30 notches

In an attempt to up lift its striving economy, Pakistan is extending its IT sector to U.S. companies and investors, expecting global agreements will improve it.

Over the years, the government has not done as much as it should have in terms of focusing on expanding the IT sector,” Ambassador Khan. “In past two or three years, though, we’ve seen some phenomenal growth.”

 “The economy is his primary and principal focus,” Ambassador Khan said. “The manner in which he’s approaching foreign policy is rooted in his desire to turn around the economy and provide jobs for the people.”

“If I were to look at our overall economic performance, the IT sector comes out as one that has performed the best,” said Asad Majeed Khan, the Pakistani ambassador to the United States and one of the conference speakers. “The whole idea of doing the tech summit was to inform the companies in the Silicon Valley about what is our potential and what is it we can do together.”

Ambassador further added, “Over the years, the government has not done as much as it should have in terms of focusing on expanding the IT sector”. “In the past two or three years, though, we’ve seen some phenomenal growth.”

As part of a broader set of initiatives, the country is trying to grow its already substantial tech sector and attract international investment, especially from the United States and neighboring China, which already has built a vast deep-sea harbor and naval port in Gwadar, on the Arabian Sea, as part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.

“Our IT success story is not as widely known and as widely shared as it should be,” Ambassador Khan said. “If you were to only compare the numbers, the actual potential, then Pakistan has really come a long way in terms of harnessing the IT potential.” 

Pakistan generates revenue worth $4 billion through its IT exports. However, ambassador said that the number is more likely to be high as many payments suffer during international settlements.

There were more than 200 people in the audience who listened to 14 Pakistani start-up companies. Moreover, panels on microelectronics, software development, artificial intelligence, gaming, medical innovation, and venture capital funding were also amongst the audience.

The ambassador reels off a number of statistics suggesting the country’s resources and opportunities:

As of 2017, Pakistan had 207 million residents, making it the world’s sixth-most populous country, roughly the size of the equally fast-growing Indonesia and Brazil.

Pakistan also has one of the world’s youngest populations; in 2007, the last year such official data was available for the country, 75 percent of the country was under the age of 35, according to United Nations. Khan said the number now is closer to 64 percent, still a prodigious tilt toward a younger, more tech-savvy population.

Pakistan is one of the world’s largest English-speaking countries (English is one of two official languages), behind India, the United States and Nigeria. Its English-language population is much larger than the United Kingdom, the Philippines, Germany, and smaller former British colonies.

The country has 161 million cellphone users, 70 million of them on more modern 3G and 4G networks, and 72 million broadband users.

The country turns out 35,000 graduates of IT-related training programs every year.

The country has no restrictions on foreign ownership or repatriation of capital.

The Pakistani government just issued an e-commerce policy that includes plans to create 15 IT parks around the country to house up to 5,000 companies.

Issues with crime, corruption and security appear to have improved significantly compared to 10 years ago, according to international indexes, particularly in major cities such as Karachi.

However, there are numerous ongoing challenges

India dramatically ramped up tensions in the region when it recently revoked special autonomous status in its part of the region, and imposed curfews and other security measures while locking down media and social media.

Former cricketer turned politician Imran Khan brought world’s attention to the Kashmir issue in his historic speech at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in September. He was commended not just by his countrymen but praise from all over the world was showered on the leader after his speech.

The Indian government increased tensions in the region when it cancelled the special autonomous status accorded to Indian-administered Kashmir in its constitution, the most far-reaching political move on the disputed region in nearly 70 years, and sent thousands of supplementary troops to the disputed region, imposed a crippling curfew, shut down telecommunications and internet, and arrested political leaders.

Imran Khan’s attempts to reach out to India’s Hindu nationalist-led government have so far been largely ignored. It’s an issue when two of world’s nuclear powers, which have had a string of border wars since they left British rule during the bloody 1947 Partition, continue to have poor relations along their lengthy border.

As well, Pakistan’s Northwest Territories, abutting Afghanistan and relatively autonomous and beyond central government control, are still something of a Wild West, used by Afghani and Islamist anti-government forces as bases.

And the economy still faces challenges that have forced it to seek assistance from the International Monetary Fund.

The Forbes writer while appreciating PM Khan said that, “In part that’s because the country’s charismatic new prime minister, former international cricket star Imran Khan, has made the economy his top priority”.

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Rahma Javed


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