Pakistan (Islamic Republic of)

H.E. Ms Anusha Rahman Ahmad KHAN
Ministry of Information Technology

23 October 2014

Honorable Chairman,
Secretary General,
Deputy Secretary General,
Directors of the ITU Bureaus,
Ladies and Gentlemen
A very good afternoon

While extending my facilitations to Mr. Chairman for appointment as the chair of this Plenipotentiary Conference’ PP14”, I am honored to be making this policy statement on behalf of the Government of Pakistan at this highest telecommunication policy setting forum of the ITU. I would also like to congratulate his Excellency Secretary General Dr. Hamadoun Toure for his outstanding achievement and committed work over these past eight years. We extend our heartfelt facilitations to Secretary General Elect Mr. Houlin Zhou on his brilliant unanimous election bestowing confidence in his ability by all the countries. We wish him success with his new endeavors as Secretary General ITU. I also want to thank the Government of Korea for hospitality and continued commitment to supporting development of innovative technologies and for getting the ICT thought leaders under one roof getting them to all work together on this critically important project of setting the agenda of the Union for the next four years.

The gathering of world leaders, dignitaries, and professionals here exhibits the commitment the global community has always carried to connect the un-connected of the world and is now renewing to take us to the next level of economic growth and empowerment of all human beings. As we all work together here in this wonderful city of Busan to achieve a common outcome and to set a vision for ICT sector from now through the year 2020, I have full confidence that we will exceed the targets. The proposed ITU framework, Connect 2020 comprising of four pillars; growth, inclusiveness, sustainability and innovation & partnership captures complete ecosystem of ICTs from the development of application and services to the provision of access and delivery of the services and applications to all.

Ladies and Gentlemen

The Government of Pakistan is fully appreciative of the recent developments in the field of Information and Communication Technologies and opportunities embedded therein for the people. As the role of the ICTs has evolved as an enabler of growth, our policy focus is to provide universal, affordable and equitable access to the people so that they can reap maximum benefits from the vide-ranging available opportunities worldwide. We believe that proliferation of broadband is the modus operandi to achieve all these goals.

As we are currently engaged in the process of reviewing our ICT policies and let me share with you that our vision for the policy is very much aligned with Connect 2020 theme of ITU. In fact, we have already started practical implementation of some of our plans that are entirely aligned with this joint vision. As we embark on the next stage of our ICT journey the vision of our government is ‘Accelerated Digitization Ecosystem’ with special emphasis on ‘Bridging Broadband Divide’ to enable socio-economic development across the length and breadth of the country expanding the knowledge based economy and to spur economic growth. The government has accorded its highest priority to the development of ICT infrastructure and applications for the provision of quality services, education, employment opportunities, and women empowerment.

We have recently granted next generation mobile broadband licenses to operators after a transparent spectrum auction process and have adopted policy focus on transparent and optimal availability of spectrum for the future.  We are expecting to achieve faster deployment of mobile broadband infrastructure through the roll out of 3G/4G services on the access side. The government is fully aware that continued availability of appropriate spectrum is critically important to further ICT development and therefore as a policy priority the emphasis is on further spectrum availability for facilitating mobile broadband penetration. We have always contributed to ITU’s work on harmonization of this important resource and will continue to do so. To facilitate the backhaul connectivity, which is an equally important component of the broadband value chain, Universal Service Fund is being used to complement deployment of extensive network of optic fiber cable across the country.

Another policy objective we are pursuing is to address the issue of access to ICT services to all regardless of geographic area. In urban areas where there is a business case for operators, the competition is driving infrastructure deployment; however, considering the digital divide between rural and urban areas, government itself, through Universal Service Fund, has taken an initiative to establish Universal Tele-centers powered by fiber optic cable in un-served, underserved and rural areas of Pakistan. Universal Tele-centers will act as a hub to provide e-services to the communities. The Universal Tele-centers will be utilized by telecom operators, provincial governments and federal government organizations to provide citizen centric services.  Projects of rural telephony aimed at providing basic telecommunication services to people of even the most remote areas are also underway.

With our e-government plan, the government is stirring a demand of e-services in Pakistan. Thus, government is going to be an important stakeholder in “e” ecosystem and playing its role in growth enabling ICT diffusion in the country. Through e-government platform, the aim is to provide e-services to the people while ensuring transparency and accountability in the public sector. 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Building innovation and entrepreneurial capacity in our massively talented youth is another integral component of value chain which requires special focus to run the ICT ecosystem effectively. We appreciate that ‘Innovation’ is directly linked with the quality and skills of HR. The Telecom industry funded ‘Research and Development Fund’ of the Government is setting up scaled up program to nurture innovative ideas and to incubate entrepreneurial attitude and viable business around these ideas. The R&D Fund is encouraging the ICT industry to bring out proposals that facilitate e-agriculture, e-health, e-learning, e-security, e-connectivity and e-commerce. The 60% population of Pakistan composing of youth under age 25 are at the heart of all ICT related policy activity that we are undertaking be it awarding of free laptops and tablets to hundreds of thousands of bright young students, subsidizing top class IT education for enterprising students of disadvantaged areas or support of innovation and entrepreneurship for young Pakistanis through startup incubation or seed funding. 

Being one of the few women ministers around this august house my statement would not be complete without a reference to my country’s commitment to development of the opportunities for women empowerment that ICTs have enabled. It is encouraging that ITU is coming out in a big way to institutionalize work in this arena as a core part of strategy. It is a proven fact that greater involvement of women can deliver better growth, more competitiveness, and greater human development in our economies. I believe policymakers, businesses and institutions should focus on the best methods for achieving women participation and we should move from ‘why’ to ‘how’. Very few things indeed are really impossible and everything can be accomplished particularly if we act in unison together. Carrying forward our previous commitment to the cause, Pakistan renews its focus to make ICTs major source of empowerment and development for women in coming five years. We will continue to actively participate in Union’s activities in this space.

Ladies and Gentlemen

Since 1947, Pakistan has a long history of significant contribution to the work of ITU to promote the mandate of this specialized organization of the United Nations. Pakistan has been a member of ITU Council and the Radio regulation Board for several tenures and effectively contributed towards achieving ITU goals. Pakistan believes in continuing its efforts and commitments to the ITU objectives. We are therefore taking this opportunity to request membership’s support for the candidature for the Council member position. Pakistan believes that we have more in common than differences and the spirit of collaboration in ICT can help bring us together for the welfare of humanity. This Mr. Chairman is the spirit with which Pakistan wants to play its role in the ITU process. 

I would like to conclude by congratulating the outgoing Secretary General Dr. Toure and his team at the International Telecommunication Union for building a network of cooperation amongst member countries, which this Plenipotentiary Conference epitomizes. I wish everyone a successful conference and the will and energy to take the future of the world forward together under the spirit that’s the hallmark of the ITU. 

I thank you Ladies and Gentlemen.