When a 19th century romantic French writer by the name of Victor Hugo said “Nothing is as powerful as an idea whose time has come” he obviously could not envision Pakistani bureaucracy. Not only can it reduce an idea to nothing more than its meager skeletal remains squirming in its own vile, it too often does.
Come 2004, the IT bubble is about to burst in a military run, democratic, American influenced politically independent subcontinent country by the name of Pakistan. It is here in our story that along comes an idea. It is a simple idea yet revolutionary in every way, the idea to prepare this country for the topsy-turvy world it exists in is to inject it with private equity, in essence jet fueling it into prosperity, whether it likes it or not. Let’s just ignore the fact that the literacy rate is so low that it might actually have to rise to hit rock bottom and where skilled labor seems to be playing hide and hide with the feeble corporate sector. Also lets ignore the fact that governmental policies are almost all geared towards the public sector especially defense but you didn’t hear that from me.
So with this minor socio-eco-political environment in the discarded footnotes of an otherwise brilliant idea, its full steam ahead to launch Pakistan’s first incubation center. And what better place than a visionary academic institution that is known for its creativity, risk taking and freethinking environment, the National University of Sciences and Technology. It was a match made in heaven, pairing the private sector hatchling companies with the full might of a military run academic institution. Because everyone knows that the military is a breeding ground for creativity, stuffed with free thinking and deep fried in risk taking. Oh I did mention NUST is run by a serving lieutenant General and while great effort was put to show NUST as a non military entity, the beige color buildings and commandants did little to stir confidence in the façade.
At this point I would like to categorically state that I am not a pessimist, my psychiatrist may disagree but what does he know.
But let’s give TIC a chance here. They claim to be the first incubation center to be established in academia in Pakistan, but then again there are 5 other incubation centers active in Karachi and Islamabad as well.
For TIC – their website and list of incubated companies has not been updated in nearly 2 years – I’ve been following it closely. I do not know who’s actually getting incubated, and neither does any of the NUST students that I’ve spoken to… was the comment of a reader, Osama A, on an article on TIC on April 18, 2008… and alas! it still holds true for the current state of affairs. Their website fails to provide an iota of clarity, apart from a general manager and assistant manager coordination they have no staff. Also, and dear reader please indulge me, after almost 8 years their long list of three incubate companies speaks volumes of efficiency.
Now at this point most of you will expect me to say something like “they’re either just a promotional gimmick or a way of exploiting the entrepreneurs into giving away major shares for minor work” but you’re wrong, I say “they’re just a promotional gimmick”.
To me its way too painfully clear that it is an attempt, no matter how insincere or crude, is a whim of a certain high ranking –let’s say a creative freethinking and risk taking ruler of NUST.