Where is e-Government in Pakistan?

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Electronic government or e-Govt as it’s more commonly referred to is still a distant dream in Pakistan. While we have seen an immense growth in the e-governance in the developed countries and many developing countries too, Pakistan is left behind in this race.I would narrate two personal experiences here to solidify my claim. National Savings is a big financial institution of Pakistan under the control of the federal government. The organization has millions of depositors and thousands of employees. If you happen to visit any National Savings center the first thing you would notice is a long queue of customers and a general sense of clutter and mayhem. This is because the organization has not yet computerized its procedures and still employs the age old system of keeping registers or ‘Khatas’ as they are known in Urdu. Now that is a very lengthy procedure of going through the piles of decades old registers and finding the details and takes a lot of time. These centers have got computers? Yes they have but they are not using them because there is no database of customers and they are placed to just give the place a techy look.Now let’s move to our very own district courts or Kutcheries. Everyone has to visit these places for a variety of reasons and they are still using centuries old system of ‘data warehousing’. The record offices often times catch fire and the precious data is lost.The plan for incorporating e-Govt modules in Pakistan was envisaged in 2002 and an Electronic Government Directorate (EGD) was established in October 2002. The directorate, working under the ministry of information technology, is carrying out some projects on a smaller scale. As mentioned earlier, computers have been provided to many government organizations but the employees either don’t know how to use them or can’t utilize them fully due to their limited scope in their jobs.Now instead of lambasting the government for the slow paced modernization, we can improve the situation. We have to start with those organizations where there is an ample IT infrastructure present but there is a dearth of procedures like National Savings. If these organizations involve the IT firms in creating databases and softwares then we can expect some positive changes.As far as digitizing the data of local governments and record offices is concerned, it’s a long and tedious project but we have to start it immediately.The only hindrance in this regard is the lack of availability of funds and more importantly, lack of will. The rampant corruption present in the traditional data keeping is also a major bottleneck as the folks will have to part with huge chunks of ‘extra income’. India is facing the similar issues but they are trying to combat it. We just need to follow suit.

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  • I think we need to understand that even if a department has a good semi-use of technology it doesn’t mean that its “top-level” management even understands what IT can do for them.

    I have been involved in some private sector companies where all of their business information is in paper form, it was and still is a challenge to make them realize how efficient they can be when a correct IT solution is provided to them.

    Efficiency is not about working long hours, its about working smartly for 8 hours :)

    hopefully our e-government will realize this soooooon..

  • E-Govt disappeared the same day the illiterates brought down pervez musharraf , it not about politics but what i know is it might have been possible in the Musharraf era and it was being done they even had plans to build a Tech City near Sheikhupura but i don’t see this tech revolution happening under this playboy’s management.

  • “The rampant corruption present in the traditional data keeping is also a major bottleneck as the folks will have to part with huge chunks of ‘extra income’”

    I agree with you on that! they are worried about their extra income because if computerized it isn’t easy to modify things.

  • @Obaid
    Yeah we can only hope for that they will realize the importance of IT pretty soon otherwise they’ll suffer losses as traditional way of doing business is almost a thing of the past now.
    @Ehsan
    Without sounding political, I do agree that present regime has yet to devise any IT policy.
    @Saad
    That’s one of the biggest reasons for this as the current system of data keeping is so easy to manipulate :)

  • Yeah and this reminds me that when nadra’s wasnt computerized we got fake birth certificates of my brother made (infact 2-3 times), the guy used to charge 500 and used to come at home to deliver those 😀 but since it has been computerized and we got the computerized bayform we have been told its impossible to modify anything now

  • I think the issue is not of computerization but mainly of the funds and lack of interest of even EGD people. Since i have been in a few implementations of Egovt. porjects (District & Province level), but those project succeed where interest of funding agency(like UN or US AID program) is there. Local IT professionals dont even understand its importance by themselves, so they do not cooperate implementing it.

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