If the government of Pakistan wants to see the IT sector flourish and its exports to line up – the government must do at least one thing – not shut down the internet and block social media platforms.

One of the biggest changes the internet and its applications have brought is bringing people closer in many aspects. It has also brought about economic implications in that it has brought people in close proximity to work. They can work remotely, as well as find freelance projects work through clients on LinkedIn or ask parties for projects directly on Twitter.

Former IT Minister Aminul Haq last year had vowed that social media sites and its applications will never be shut down again. However, since then, the country has faced perhaps more shutdowns than ever before.

US calls on Pakistan to lift social media restrictions

Seamless, unrestricted and uninterrupted internet and social media platforms are not just important for the IT sector and IT and IT enabled services (ITeS), but many other sectors too such as the media industry.

Daily wage workers belonging to the ride-hailing and food delivery industry also struggle without connectivity.

Meanwhile, IT software exporters and freelancers are left twiddling their thumbs – in some cases, even losing their clients after failing to meet project deadlines.

Internet shutdowns also erodes the trust of foreign clients.

Clients using Pakistani software houses and freelancers do not rely on just lower priced services– they also need timely services.

Those who run Pakistan need to learn a bit about ‘Management Science’.

Internet services suspended on security concerns

A client that is purchasing services schedules the delivery of said services in a sequential manner. In that, other services are queued one after another .

One delayed step in the chain may lead to disrupting the whole project, therefore eliminating countries like Pakistan out of their list of potential services providers.

Therefore, they may opt to buy services at even twice the price from other countries just because they are unable to receive them in a timely manner.

The government, by shutting down internet and social media platforms, is failing many Pakistani workers in the industry from acquiring and retaining lucrative clients because time and trust is of utmost importance to them.

Additionally, these firms are no doubt seeing reports of internet and social media shutdowns in Pakistan – and its a huge red flag for them.

They may even find themselves turning away from the market entirely – disassociating themselves from a market where the government shuts down internet whenever they feel like it.

Services on election day: Internet suspension: SHC seeks reasons from Centre

Pakistan possesses the world’s second-largest online freelance workforce, comprising approximately one million individuals.

However, Pakistani freelancers are ranked fourth on the list of money amassed within the global freelancing industry where a fewer number of freelancers are collecting higher amounts. One of the many reasons for this can be lack of trust in timely provision of services.

The IT sector is not just one sector it enables many other sectors – perhaps all sectors of the mostly documented economy.

People were unable to use their debit or credit cards to shop on election day because of the internet shutdown. This works in favour of the cash economy and therefore, the undocumented economy.

Can Pakistan boost its IT exports to $25 billion in a few years?

The internet and its applications are mandatory for businesses and the economy to run swiftly.

Shutting down the internet – even for a single day – has long-term impact. It should be eliminated from the country’s list of SOPs.

The article does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Business Recorder or its owners

Bilal Hussain

The writer is a Reporter at Business Recorder (Digital)


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Mekal Faruki Feb 23, 2024 09:32pm
IT sector has unscrupulous actors which need policing and restrictions. Internet crime is a major worldwide law enforcement problem
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Farooq Ahmed Feb 24, 2024 11:54am
Wise enemy is better than ignorant friend. We don’t need external enemies anymore, we have so many within us.
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Test Mar 01, 2024 10:51pm
IT sector has unscrupulous actors which need policing and restrictions. Internet crime is a major worldwide law enforcement problem
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