Pakistan’s Golden Ticket

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The technology sector remains the brightest prospect for any country determined to turbo-charge its growth in today’s world. First, it was China’s Baidu and Alibaba, South Korea’s Samsung and Singapore’s homegrown unicorns that gave a tough fight to Silicon Valley’s dominion over technological innovation. But now, India has also stepped in the ring thick and fast. In upcoming news, Bangladesh is all set to jettison its meagre development by fortifying the walls of its tech-savvy enclave. Amid such fleet-footed developments from around the world, it was heartening to see Pakistan inching–if not dashing–towards its Sputnik moment. With a much-touted increase in IT exports by 47 per cent, Pakistan fetched a whopping $2.1 billion this year. Though back-breaking for every other sector, the pandemic and its induced demand slump had a silver lining for our tech experts. For, they availed the opportunity to make a deeper inroad into the global market for a wide range of IT services. With the recent announcement of e-commerce giant Amazon adding Pakistan to its sellers’ list and PM Imran Khan’s unwavering commitment to the Kamyab Jawan Programme, the IT ministrty could not be more delirious with happiness. After all, in a country known for its anti-tech culture, Islamabad is trying very hard to come up with all possible measures to facilitate the industry. There are plans of building more high-tech parks. The skipper has already put his foot down on tax holidays for tech corporations. If fruitful, the landmark 5G roadmap would be a true gamechanger.
But all good intentions aside, those waiting for the sweet delicacies of these initiatives to trickle down on their own are naive. What about the barriers obstructing Paypal from opening shop in Pakistan? If over 200 countries can actively pursue the fintech wizard, why shouldn’t our freelancers get their hands on the same ease of doing business? The missing Paypal link is already hurting their potential in the global market as they vie for tech orders.
It would also be more worthwhile to exempt the sector from taxation and allocate funds for software development than focusing more on brick-and-mortar. The labour market has changed dramatically over the years. There’s no denying that. But in order to get the best of this shift, we need an army of professionals to spearhead a fintech revolution. The drive is already present as an overwhelming $85 million has already been poured into our startups. All they need is a pat on the back from those devising policies for the sector. The upcoming boom would only survive the harsh tide if it is made sustainable and youth-led. If neighbouring India can set its eyes on exports to the tune of trillions, so can we. Yes, our exports are still negligible in comparison but we can still make do with our meagre resources. There is a need to change the design of our education system. If they have laced their arsenal with engineering colleges, trained professionals and ever-diversifying ideas, we, too, can improve our lot. Just focus on research and innovation and voila! We too would have our golden ticket!