PM says Digital Pakistan will unleash full potential of youth, women

Project will be headed by Tania Aidrus, a former Google employee

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ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday said that the full potential of the contribution of youth and the women to the economy will be unleashed with the introduction of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government’s ‘Digital Pakistan Vision’.

“The vision sets Pakistan’s digital ambition and has been designed for the government and the private sector to work towards a digitally progressive and inclusive Pakistan,” said a press statement.

Speaking at the launch ceremony of the initiative, PM Imran regretted not having launched it at the very beginning when his government was formed.

“I should have given attention to Digital Pakistan earlier. This is the most important thing for Pakistan right now, especially its youth. The whole world is moving forward digitally and we have been left behind.

“But you all know, and must be tired of hearing it, but we had an unprecedented debt […] and all our attention was focused towards stabilising the economy and our currency,” he added.

The premier said that Pakistan has the world’s second-largest youth population “which can be converted into our strength with this one initiative alone”.

“Our women will be able to fully contribute. This is a very big opportunity.”

He said that the introduction of e-governance will be essential in combatting “the endemic of corruption which started out at the top but with their flight to foreign countries has now settled down in the lower tiers of society”.

“E-governance is the best way to make the lives of people easier.”

PM Imran said in e-governance had been introduced in Shaukat Khanum 19 years ago, and by doing away with paper receipts, “all sorts of pilferage was done away with”.

He said the same was being attempted for implementation but he was sad to report that the move was being met with a lot of resistance.

“You won’t be able to stop us for much longer,” he said, addressing the institutions opposed to shifting to digital platforms.

He said e-commerce will also be brought in after removing cybersecurity hurdles.

According to a statement, it brings together multiple initiatives that the government has already kicked off, and identifies additional focus areas that it will initiate in the coming months.

Its strategic pillars are access and connectivity, digital infrastructure, digital skill and literacy, innovation and entrepreneurship.

These pillars, the communique added, supported by a forward-looking policy and a broader legal framework, will “set us on the path to becoming a truly Digital Pakistan”.

It is important to note that the government has handpicked a former Google employee based in their Singapore office, Tania Aidrus, to lead the Digital Pakistan initiative.

“It’s the patriotic people like Tania Adrous who build nations. PM Imran Khan’s vision for a #DigitalPakistan brings former Google executive Tania back to Pakistan. Looking forward to her positive contribution in shaping the digital landscape of Pakistan,” according to a government tweet.

Aidrus has handed in her resignation letter to Google. Her previous role at the company was Director of Product Management, specifically overlooking Google payments and the company’s ‘Next Billion Users’ initiative.

Although Aidrus is expected to lead Digital Pakistan, it is not yet confirmed what her title will be. Sources have speculated that it could be Chief Digital Officer, though it is not confirmed.

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