PM talked about digital Pakistan, education, poor people and progress in the 60s Pakistan. In term of digitization as country’s future, it must be understood that basic idea of information technology is decentralization. Education institutions not IT parks are the foundation stones of IT revolution. Local teaching and learning will make it affordable, spread faster and attract more students because it will be affordable. Online teaching can turn it into cottage industry in which everyone can learn, adopt and use it. It will form a solid IT ecosystem that will be spread all over the country with benefits for economy, jobs and national security. Regarding internet use, Pakistan can make use of internet for public benefit in an affordable way. China relocated population and domestic consumption based economy to lift millions of people out of poverty. But the downside of this model was increase in cost of living, 30 years of infrastructure development and social problems. Now Beijing is using 5G to improve living standards by keeping public in their birth places. We can use these examples to end poverty, create jobs and improve our per capita income. It can be done more with policies than money and then cut Ehsaas budget by 75%.
A combination of 5G, mobile APP (website) and QR code is the way to end IMF programme in Pakistan. It can work with money transfer service, 24/7 reliable delivery system and internet. In online business by using quality controller, v-logger, IT experts as technical support, fraud control and recovery experts, there can 90% self-employment in next six months. For example, an illiterate old woman in a remote village wants to sell eggs online. If she has access to WIFI, knowledge of using location feature of Google map and support of local online business team, she can be self-employed within no time. This simple idea of using existing technology and services or digitization of business can produce phenomenal results. It can help reduce unemployment, widen tax collection and improve living standards. By adopting barcode/QR based sales system, government can tax every sold item. The direct connection between buyer and the seller eliminates predatory role of middleman, improves income by 50% and cuts living cost by 50%. As per the economists, middleman make an astonishing 100%-200% margins on farmers produce and lack of proper supply chain lets them make the most gain.
Digitization can help Baluchistan and other remote areas. Government can use existing setups of education to give IT training in remote areas to improve their living standards and cut cost of living. The availability of IT services in remote areas will allow locals to mainstream their skills without leaving their home and way of life. America relocated population in 16 states to improve living standards, economy and create jobs (US Homestead Act 1862). China also relocated 700 million people successfully for similar reasons. Pakistan should also relocate 3-5 crore people to remote areas with bulk in Baluchistan to achieve desired results. IT can play a major role to achieve employment, economic and security interests. A simple approach can help poor. PM said that Pakistan made progress in 60s and hospitals used to give better healthcare at that time. Pandemic has shown that Britain is suffering due to privatization of NHS. Biden supported role of state in protecting the vulnerable in healthcare during 1st presidential debate. Trump boasted of bringing down drug prices to the level of drinking water. Energy, utilities, insurance and transport in the UK are officially cartels and rogue politicians block government from protecting public interest. Pakistan should restore education, healthcare, utilities, transport and pension system back to government control. It will end circular debt, need for health card and Ehsaas program.
Pakistan education can be improved in 60 days. We can standardize national, provincial and madrassa education systems with credible testing centers, introducing annual central testing in grade 4,8 and 12 of reading, mathematics, science and writing to evaluate teaching and learning. Issue list of 58 subjects for regular testing to align public and private education at national and international levels (PISA). Give outline of syllabus for printing of books. It will allow complete freedom to all, standardize education, bring madrassas to mainstream education and help us compete at international standard. PM always stresses on the importance of merit. There are 50 million unemployed Americans for no fault, Johnson was fired thrice for lying but he became UK Premier. Trump stopped Biden from using word smart for himself. Humans are not born at will, their circumstances are not of their choosing and they are not architects of their destiny. But as parents, family members they have social responsibilities, human urges and aspirations which merit to be fulfilled by the state because it is collecting taxes. No one should have the right to insult fellow beings on one excuse or the other. It explains why our constitution envisaged a social welfare state.
—The writer is senior political analyst based in Islamabad.