Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) promised on page 49 of its election manifesto 2013 that at least 250 Information and Communications, Science and Technology (ICT) centres would be established in smaller cities to provide basic training to people in the field of Information, Communication and Technology.
In Pakistan, the ICT sector remains the fastest growing sector economically, despite the financial crises. Pakistan’s ICT sector has seen incredible growth in recent years. However, it has yet to reach its full maturity. The year 2011 was marked as the golden year because of the high yield in this specific sector. According to the 2011 annual report ‘Freedom on the Net’, Pakistan has over 20 million internet users and has the 15th largest population of internet users out of all the countries in the world. Whereas stats of Pakistan Tele Communication Authority (PTA) indicate that the total percentage of cellular users in Pakistan reached 65.2 percent in October 2011.
Mukesh Kumar Chawala, the IT Minister Sindh, while talking to Truth Tracker over the phone said “I am sorting out all it takes to make this promise be fulfilled. This project is already in the pipeline. PPP will continue its policies to achieve the target.” He promised, “In our last tenure, ICT centres were established in comparatively smaller cities like Sanghar and Tharparkar. I will make sure to engage maximal potency in order to achieve the promised target.”
It has been more than three months since Qaim Ali Shah was sworn in as the new Chief Minister of Sindh, but none of the top leaders of PPP has uttered a word about establishing ICT centers. Truth Tracker ranks this promise as not yet started.
Samar Ali Khan, a member of the Sindh Assembly from Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), told Truth Tracker by phone that the promise could have been fulfilled if the intent were there, but that PPP lacked such determination. “They could execute it if the political will were there. People have seen PPP’s past performance. Such promises are added in the manifesto only to make it look more attractive. If PPP has promised to set up ICT centres then it should deliver,” Samar further stated.
Irfanullah Khan Marvat, a Sindh Assembly member from PML-N, opined that the promise of setting up 250 ICT centres was just a political tactic to bag votes in general elections 2013. “When the literacy level is so low and basic education is missing in Interior and smaller cities of Sindh, how could one expect ICT centers from PPP in these cities?” he asked.
“I do not think they will be able to keep their words. They didn’t do that when they were in power,”Marvat further added.
Yasir Memon, an Executive Director of Pakistan Friends Foundation (PFF), an NGO based in Sindh, told Truth Tracker that it was evident from the last tenure of the PPP that the party was neither sincere nor putting in enough efforts to fulfill its promises.
As opined by Memon, “PPP has a history of not doing a better job in the field of Education and Development. They may deliver 50 percent of it, but I highly suspect if they could accomplish 100 percent of what they have committed. I cannot see the fulfillment of this promise in the near future,” Memon told Truth Tracker. “Two hundred and fifty ICT centres is not a big deal but it takes determination and devotion, which PPP is reluctant to show.”