Unlike the rest of the world, Pakistan and Pakistanis have been a little slow in adopting technology into everyday life. As a majority of the world welcomed new innovations and technologies with open arms, the Pakistani population remained content with sifting through records kept in dog-eared journals, not having the faintest idea of what they were missing out on.
But things have started to change. Streets are filled with citizens hooked to their smartphones, ‘facebooking’ and all, women are learning new cooking techniques courtesy Youtube tutorials and accountants have found solace in custom software that are saving them the routine hassle of inking their pens.
After almost two-decades of unsure, unstable and unfriendly encounters, tech seems to have finally found a footing in Pakistan. The country recorded an increased procurement of advanced tech products in 2015 by climbing up from the previous year’s 98th spot to 52nd in the Global Competitiveness Report 2015-16, showing that fondness for technology has not just evolved in civilians but also gone mainstream diffusing into private and state-owned institutions.
At least half of the country’s 200 million population is mobile phone subscriber, and a sizable number among them having internet connectivity. With such penetration of technology, it is no surprise technology is being embraced by all sectors of the economy. Let’s take a look where.
Launched about a decade ago, The Virtual University has surely been a useful tool in propelling Pakistan’s literacy graph upwards. Even though there still exists a massive need to replicate the model at primary levels, the interference of internet has helped knowledge travel in remote corners of the state. Besides, The Information Technology University (ITU) in Lahore has launched a project has led to the development of educational apps and software that assists students in accessing quality and scholarly information available online.
Apart from integrating technology in teaching methods, the wide usage of mobile technology and computer tablets among students is also expanding horizons of learning. Watching and listening to lectures online is trending as opposed to relying on texts alone. Multi-directional communication through internet-based learning has become a habitual trait of universities in Pakistan, and all that remains is to implement the same principles in public institutions.
Probably the most vivid effect of the internet has been on the commerce industry. E-commerce is a growing sector in Pakistan and its growth is encouraging hundreds of tech-preneurs to come up with unique technology-based solutions to humans’ everyday needs. In the retail sector, online portals like homeshopping.com have opened up a gateway for consumers to acquire products sitting at home and many similar e-portals have followed. Almost all businesses, big and small, have started maintaining online stores, as well as a presence on social media. Trailblazers like Zameen (real estate) and Pakwheels (automobiles) have revolutionized their respective sectors and created a worthy name for themselves.
Eyeing the immense potential in Pakistan’s budding online market, international startups like Uber and Careem have also landed in the country and Paypal is said to contemplating a move, providing but a testimony to the growing profitability of technologically-driven economy of Pakistan.
The Punjab Police has become the force of change with a recent technological intervention.
The introduction of Information Technology in Punjab Police force aims to reform the manner in which law enforcement agencies work in Pakistan. A fully-equipped ops room designed to pull surveillance footage from police patrol cars as well as from CCTV cameras have been set with collaboration from the Punjab Board of IT (PBIT), through which a comprehensive database for city crimes and complaints registered through a centralized 8330 SMS and Rescue 15 systems is available.
The introduction of a digitalized ops room will certainly help build citizen’s trust in authorities and pave way for greater transparency.
- Real estate
The recently implemented computerized land recording system in Pakistan has helped real estate get rid of many evils previously plaguing the sector. Though a fairly slow process, the technological intervention has helped address the longstanding patwari culture, as well as minimize issues of forging of documents and resultant land grabbing.
The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province is currently digitalizing its land record and record consolidation in Mardan district has already seen completion.
The Government of Pakistan has also developed a mobile app to facilitate smart searching of real estate in the country, thus ensuring to keep level with modern day user-friendly tech-tools.
With such milestones, it is safe to say that times are favorable for technological progress in Pakistan. Safer gateways to online trade and exchange, better incentives and subsidies by the government have the potential to pull down remaining barriers in the virtual market. Implementing greater number of modern day technologies will benefit civilians and lead to Pakistan being counted among ‘smart’ countries of the world in no time.