On the Clueless Ministry of Information Technology Pakistan

I originally started this post to share this spanking brand spanking new report on Broadband penetration in Pakistan by our Ministry of Information Technology titled "Is Entire Pakistan Underserved?", and was just going to write something weakly funny about it like "Yes, you bet it is, you could have asked me instead of wasting money on publishing a 39 page report about it"… but here's what went wrong….

Since I got the message on a mailing list, so I googled for an official link to the report and found this monstrosity as the top link (breaking it down into pieces otherwise it will mess up my blog layout):



So at first I thought it was some spam text-harvesting site of some sort, especially since I couldn't find the waving Pakistan flag.gif that is probably an official requirement of all our government websites, but after looking at the mandatory picture of our "minister-like" minister (didn't know 'Riar' was a name), the site seemed genuine enough. I thought that perhaps the IP is a from a development server that was indexed by google, after all, not every server administrator knows about what robots.txt is for, and sure enough, another search took me to the Official Website of the MOIT – they have not one but TWO official sites! moit.gov.pk and moitt.gov.pk .

I was relieved that our ministry has discovered the useful phenomenon of domain names, but my happiness was short-lived, as all the links on the website were pointing to the web server IP!! I couldn't do much besides going to the IP and finding a beautiful page welcoming me to the IBM WebSphere Server. Since at this point, I had nothing to lose (besides my remaining) sanity, I googled for a few more seconds and ended up at the LMKR website, who are apparently the people behind this state-of-the-art CMS. Here's the quote from their website:

Client’s Name: MOIT
Contact: Raza Abbas
Contact no. 9206016
Duration/Year: Nov 2004 to date The Electronic Office at Ministry of Information Technology is the Government of Pakistan’s flagship project for electronic governance. Under this project, papers based systems & procedures are being replaced by digital processes & work flows. The infrastructure team has deployed IBM Web sphere, Lotus Domino & DB2 servers for the solution. Extensive administrative trainings are also imparted for servers’ management.

So, LMKR, first of all, congratulations on landing these government projects, I have a very clear idea of the kind of money you people were paid, but, if this is the end product of the "extensive administrative training" your infrastructure team has given to our MOIT, please extend that training (it is an ongoing project, right?) for a few more months, until they know the difference between IP addresses and domains, that the point of a CMS is to put up HTML content (and NOT uploading a bunch of .doc and .pdf files to download for job ads). While you are at it, please also try to tell them that a government website is not the only place to upload their passport photographs, tell them about flickr, and blogs, and tell them about rozee.com, about domain names and IP addresses. Please also tell our government that "Description of About Ministry" doesn't really describe anything, tell them that having such jokes (called official sites) online is not really a good idea for my country's brand image. I hope your contract auto-renews each year.

And MOIT, even though you guys have so candidly asked for comments, I will not be able to email them to awais@moitt.gov.pk as you have asked (his email has probably been harvested and submitted to a zillion spam engines by now, or will be soon enough) – I will, however, thank you here on my tiny blog for the wonderful statistics you have made public. I heard you have generated pools of money from the telcom sector, please also share how much of that money was spent on this study if you can, I'm sure the pretty pictures and graphs, abbreviations, footnotes and bulleted lists in your pdfs, the meeting and surveys and stats-gathering must have cost you something.

Before you quadruple my bandwidth, though, please realize that when I pay 1600 times (from your research) what americans pay for the internet, I feel richer (1600 times richer than the americans infact), and it helps me savor every byte, thereby improving my quality of life. It also feels great to be part of the 115,000 or so elite in Pakistan who use broadband, I have come to love my humble 256Kbps. Please don't take my status away from me by planning to give Broadband to everyone. And to answer the original question, yes, Pakistan is under-served, and I'm not talking about just Broadband here.


  1. were u really expecting something technically sound from our government projects….?

  2. Sohaib Athar says:

    Atif, actually, yes. I know for a fact that there are a lot of competent people associated with the ministry, but they probably aren’t empowered to make radical/good changes. Maybe when this generation of semi-literate “tecehnologists” retires, we’ll have some hope. It would have been totally understandable if it were the ministry of agriculture, for example, but it is really too frustrating to see the kind of ‘talent’ that is running the Ministry of “Information Technology”.

  3. Moazam says:

    DSL and WiMax broadband services are not available in the remote areas of Capital City, Islamabad. In urban areas other broadband service providers are operating but in remote areas i.e. suburbs of Islamabad, like Chack Shahzad and TARNOOL….. no broadband connectivity.

    Govt should take necessary steps in order to provide WiMax services in TARNOOL, Islamabad.

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