Technological Transformation in Pakistan: An Asset or Liability?
By News Desk
On 22nd February 2021, Center for Global & Strategic Studies (CGSS), Islamabad and Hans Seidel Foundation (HSF) Pakistan jointly organized a Conference on the topic of “Technological Transformation in Pakistan: An Asset or Liability?” at Margala Hotel, Islamabad.
The discussion commenced with the opening remarks by Mr. Ashfaq Ahmed Gondal, Former Federal Secretary Information and Broadcasting and Senior Member Board of Advisors, Center for Global & Strategic Studies (CGSS), Islamabad. He stated that technological transformation is a very significant topic because things are changing very rapidly vis-à-vis technological development. Technology is an asset as it opens new avenues of development and prosperity on a broad level. It is a powerful tool for business growth if used prudently. If we fail to use it in it’s true essence, it can become a liability.
Dr. Steffen Kudella, Resident Representative, HSF Pakistan in his welcome remarks discussed significant aspects of the topic at this conference. He stated that an algorithm is a mechanistic formula that automatically produces an answer for each new case that appears. This happens with no or with very minimal human intervention. Algorithms are marking the current age of technology. However, algorithms face serious limitations.
Dr. Steffen stated that Artificial Intelligence is still far away from having real super-human abilities. It is important for us to see not only the potential, but also the limitations of Artificial Intelligence. However, it is unlikely that they will be able to replace human beings completely in the future. Knowing this, human beings can and should adjust their skills through education and training as per the needs of the future society.
His Excellency Ali Muhammad Khan, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs, Government of Pakistan was the Chief Guest at this conference. He stated that Germany, China and Japan have re-emerged because of their focused economic development through technology which has resulted in rapid economic growth within their societies.
He stated that the Government of Pakistan is taking efficient steps to introduce technology and innovation in various sectors within the country. “We have aptly invested in health and education during the past years. Our youth is doing great and if we have not performed in the last seventy decades, we surely have the vigor and energy to do it now. We have great potential to deliver to the world and we should not be overwhelmed by any challenges.
Barrister Waqas Aziz Qureshi – Senior Law Expert and Managing Partner, Transact Advisory presented speech on the topic “Legal and Legislative Perspective on the Technological Transformation in Pakistan.” He stated his concern regarding what is required in terms of legal framewok to enhance better technological development. Pakistan is inclined towards traditional investment patterns. Technology has not transformed our economy because of our lack of interest in its development. The Government of Pakistan has taken vigilant steps to match pace with the world in this regard. He recommended that special economic zones for technological development can be setup for economic boost in this field. There should be technology-based companies which should benefit from Government’s incentives and initiatives.
Mr. Amir Zafar Durrani, President, Reenergia (Expert of renewable energy, development, trade and connectivity) presented speech on “Adapting Pakistan to Post COVID-19 Technology Gains: Some Thought Pathways.” He stated that the biggest compression of technology is happening in our region. Life patterns are changing, with some job opportunities at lower vocational drying up. During such perilous times, resilient businesses have benefitted by adopting and embracing digital methods, showing new pathways about how best to adopt technological development. “Unfortunately, we are teaching our kids everything but cognitive thinking which, in the long run, can be extremely dangerous and counterproductive for us. He stated that this is the era of fast emerging East because of the Chinese widespread investment in its immediate geographical vicinity and beyond. “We need to train our people and must stand as a nation to protect CPEC which is virtually the economic lifeline of our country in times to come. If technology is not used efficiently and prudently, it can become a lability. If we handle our resources and youth smartly, technological transformation has all the elements in it to become an asset”.
Mr. Ammar Jaffri, Director General, Center of Information Technology (CIT) presented speech on the topic “Technological Transformation in Pakistan through BRI & CPEC.” He stated, “challenges are present and we need to have joint platforms for facilitating and bringing technology in Pakistan. As for the government, it must regulate and introduce suitable environment and should keep a strict check”. He stated that our biggest opportunity and trump card is our youth. “They have passion and I have faith in them if are guided well. Our universities must deliver the right manpower”.
Mr. Jawad Majid, Director, Silk Bank highlighted the “Impacts of Technological Transformation on Pakistan’s Financial Sector.” He stated that there are several opportunities that are present for the youth nowadays vis-à-vis this topic. “We can include youth by giving them initial capital to induce them towards financial betterment via technical development in monetary and banking sectors. Private banks can collaborate and work together cohesively with the government institutions and other stakeholders related to technological sector for exponentially boosting prospects of better technological development of Pakistan in due course of time”.
Mr. Tariq Malik – Former Chief Technology Officer, GHQ presented speech on the topic “Challenges to Social Security under the Technological Transformation in Pakistan.” He stated that millions of jobs are expected to be lost or displaced during the coming decades because of the technological development happening today and fear of losing job is rampant. He stated that “Artificial Intelligence can revolutionize segments of life and can bring new opportunities. If technology is not understood and adopted, unemployment is not far away. When we are part of the global economy, we ought to change ourselves. We need to understand destination jobs for tomorrow. On the other hand, if technological development is embraced with open arms and is allowed to sensibly grow in our country, many job opportunities can emerge”.
Dr. Minhas Majeed Marwat, Department of International Relations, University of Peshawar presented speech on “Evolving Education Sector in the Prism of Technological Transformation: Challenges and Solutions.” She stated that technology has affected all aspects of life. Technology and learning process has become more effective due to technological development. Technology has changed the traditional role of teachers now. Presently, massive information is present on the internet and formal learning has consequently become much easier. Due to technological development, feedback between students and teachers has also become better because of this technological development. She concluded by stating that such development might be widening social gap within Pakistan but on the other hand, it can be a blessing as well.
Mr. Aamir Ghauri, Editor, The News presented speech on the topic “Technological Transformation Impacting Media: Increasing Challenges and the Way Forward”. He stated that the mushroom growth of media in Pakistan has created bigger challenges. He stated that the journalists work as the watchdog in public interest. Mr. Aamir stated that the biggest challenge that we are facing today is fake news. Mainstream media has to work under certain policy framework regulation. Having said that, lawmakers and legislative bodies must also catch-up with the evolving technology. We also need to research sources to fact check the information. He also comprehensively elaborated the responsibilities of the media and reporters.
Ms. Bareerah Fatima, Program Liaison Officer Associate, Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources (PCRWR) gave a glimpse of usage of digital technology for various multifaceted purposes vis-à-vis water conservation and management. She stated that at the moment, water conservation in agriculture sector requires quick improvement through technological development.
The esteemed speakers gave presentation on various aspects related to water conservation and management. Indus telemetry initiative is significantly helping in water management and conservation through its data gathering through its advanced technological mechanism and techniques. She also stated facts vis-à-vis aspects related to groundwater management and monitoring present in Pakistan at the moment. Real time canal monitoring was also discussed in considerable length. Satellite based water resource management has also significantly helped in this regard.
The event was attended by approximately 130 participants, and was moderated by Ms. Palwasha Nawaz, Project Executive, CGSS.