CPEC and Pakistan’s digital future
DAWN’s exclusive story titled ‘CPEC plan for Pakistan’s digital future’ is intriguing and promising, simultaneously. There is no denying the fact that the future is digital. Increasing access to digital content through the internet is, thus, vital for the development and sustainability of any country. Pakistan, by joining hands with China to build the digital future, has taken a giant leap forward.
However, the question who will or will not benefit from the project is important. The general perception in Gilgit-Baltistan is that this particular fibre optic network will not benefit the region. This perception is fuelled by the fact that information related to the project has largely been kept secret.
The report talks about a four-phase strategy which prioritises urban areas, starting with Islamabad, before venturing to rural peripheries. This strategy is tricky. The Gilgit-Baltistan region, through which the cable is being laid primarily, cannot wait till 2030. The federal government needs to ensure that the people of this region are not deprived of this facility, as this will be a repeat of their Sui gas dilemma.
This project must be linked with the Knowledge Corridor plan. All government and private schools in GB and other parts of the country should be given free or subsidised access to the internet to improve the quality of teaching and learning. The establishment of a tax-free Silicon Valley in Giglit-Baltistan can also help transform the economy in a short period.
Published in Dawn, October 4th, 2017