Archive for the ‘Government’ Category

KEDA agrees to cooperate with Police on stopping trading of stolen mobile phones

Sunday, July 10th, 2005

The Dawn reports that the Karachi Electronic Dealers Association (KEDA) has agreed to cooperate with the police in controlling the trading of stolen mobile phones. According to the article, the chief of police Karachi says that 80 percent of trading of all stolen mobile takes place in Karachi’s Saddar electronic market, which the KEDA represents. This partnership is a positive move by the KEDA after April’s violent encounter with the local police that ended with KEDA’s top leadership being taken into overnight custody.

Mobile phone snatching incidents are getting more frequent and violent in Karachi. The Police and KEDA’s joint initiative, the m:track mobile tracking system has not had much of an impact on the crime rate, maybe because it relies on the mobile phone seller’s voluntary participation into the program.

Can technology be used to eliminate this dangerous trend without having to rely on the local police’s brute force or the local mobile sellers’ honesty?

Pakistan blocked from contests

Friday, July 8th, 2005

CSIDC (Computer Science International Design Competition) is held every year in Washington D.C. for three days - it provides an opportunity for undergraduates from all over the world to participate in a design contest, and invites the top ten teams to D.C. to present their ideas to a panel of international industry judges. For the three years, Pakistan (e.g. LUMS, SSUET) has continually been selected as one of the top ten teams. This year (’05), “Sir Syed University of Engineering and Technology” (SSUET) was selected for the top ten, but unfortunately they couldn’t participate in the final round due to visa difficulties. Last year, two team members made it to D.C. on the 2nd day of the competition and one member wasn’t able to get a visa at all. It’s quite irritating that our country can’t do anything to expedite the process. Are there any ideas that how to prevent this situation from happening again? These past experiences are not going to encourage new teams to participate for upcoming contests.

Pakistan Launches E-Content Awards

Tuesday, June 21st, 2005

Pakistan’s National Committee for the World Summit Award announces the launch of nation wide WSA Pakistan competition to recognize and award the best e-Content practices in Pakistan

The World Summit Award in Pakistan is the first of its kind in the country, which emphasizes the importance of Content in bridging the digital divide. The main aim and purpose of organizing this competition is to recognize, encourage and further disseminate Pakistan’s best e-Content practices to bridge the information gap, break the information barrier and let the rest of the world know about Pakistani e-products.

Read on for more from Digital Opportunity.

UAE’s Etisalat wins PTCL bid

Saturday, June 18th, 2005

UAE based Etisalat has won a 26% stake in PTCL by offering a whooping $2.598 billion dollars or $1.96 per share. Etisalat’s bid overwhelmed China Mobile’s bid of $1.4 billion ($1.066 per share) and Singapore based SingTel’s bid of 1.16 billion ($0.88 per share). With this purchase Etisalat also gets 58% voting rights on the board of directors and a 26% stake of PTCLs profits. After the sale, the GoP now have a 62% stake in the company.

This is Etisalat’s first major acquisition since the UAE government announced an end to Etisalat’s telecom monopoly in UAE.

PTCL Strike reaches resolution, sale to continue

Wednesday, June 15th, 2005

An estimated 500 workers were detained while 29 were fired for threatening property damage. Union leader Shahid Ayub claimed some 200,000 phonelines were disrupted in southwestern and eastern Punjab province. Another fire in Lahore and a bomb in Balochistan to topple over a tower were amongst the attacks. Police claimed to have detained about 60 people in Lahore. Sabir Butt from the PTCL Employees Action Committee accused police of intimidating and harassing workers and their families.

Leghari claims the situation is under control during the launching ceremony of National IT Development and Promotion Unit (NIDU). Quite a shame that the launch of the IT development centre was overshadowed by issues surrounding PTCL. No details on the development centres in the news either. Anyways, Leghari stated, security was neccessitated at only 130 of the 3500 PTCL installations. Further, the strike was declared illegal by NIRC.

Yahoo provides some details:

Ali Qadir Gilani, a senior PTCL official, told Dow Jones Newswires that management and the leaders of PTCL Telecom Employees Union - the largest of the nine unions forming PTCL Action Committee - have reached a settlement to end a strike against a company stock sell-off set for Saturday.

PTCL management agreed to enhance workers’ pay by 35% instead of the previously announced 30% as well as increase other benefits for employees, such as education grants, Gilani said.

Shahid Ishaq Butt, a leader of the union, said the strike is being called off and the union won’t oppose privatization.

“We are now asking all employees to attend office in the larger interest of the country,” he said.

“We have accepted PTCL privatization because over 60% share would still be with the government even after divesting 26% stake,” Butt said.

Not the most ideal climate for privatizating and selling to foreign investors, a 26% chunk of the nations largest Telecom company which has a market cap of well over Rs.250 billion (about $US450 million) and comprises 15% of the weighted-average index of 100 shares. The stock is still holding out and the bid is still scheduled for the revised date of Jun 18 bringing to a hasty end, the 10-day standoff between 55,000 employees and 9 unions. The bidders are requested to deposit the money by Thursday (Rs40 million deposit).

Interesting turn of events. Is this the climate under which you would want to sell off a major stake in large company? Was all this trouble for a 5% increase in pay or is Shadhi Ishaq Butt (and the other 8 union leaders) a wealthier man? Or was this all military coercion?

PSEB kicks off Entrepreneur Search Program

Tuesday, June 14th, 2005

The Pakistan Software Export Board (PSEB) has launched a nation-wide entrepreneur search competition.

… the true potential of Pakistan’s skilled human resources, and the recent availability of capital for funding, is still not being utilized to its fullest potential. These untapped resources need to be channellized so that they contribute meaningfully in boosting the country’s economy. Pakistan Software Export Board (PSEB), acknowledging the lack of innovative solutions, and primarily with a view to fostering the entrepreneurial spirit in the country’s youth, is conducting a nationwide Entrepreneur Search Program relating to broad-based technology products and related services. This project will encourage young people to develop innovative new ideas, and promote indigenous product-based development in Pakistan.

The competition requires an initial 2 page concept business plan to be submitted before July 7th 2005. PSEB will select 25 top entries to be invited to a 5 day entrepreneurship workshop held at the Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS). The selected teams will be required to submit a complete business plan and give a presentation to judges at LUMS at the end of the competition. More information about the agenda here.

Some interesting points about the competition:

  • Age limit of 28 years as of June 30, 2005
  • Only teams of 3-5 people are allowed to enter, with at least one student from business or commerce and one from technology (I am not sure whether they need to be current students)
  • More emphasis on execution, rather than innovation: Plans need not be original, in order to qualify they must be successfully implemented in a competitive business environment
  • Not mentioned on the website: a quarter page ad in the paper mentioned that the top 3 business concepts will be awarded Rs 500,000, Rs 300,000 and Rs 200,000 initial seeding money

Microsoft Sets Value Of Pirated Windows: $1

Friday, June 10th, 2005

From Slashdot:

The BBC is reporting that Microsoft has reached a deal with the Indonesian government on pirated software - which is believed to affect around 50,000 government PCs. Under the deal, Indonesia will pay $1 per copy and agree to buy legally in the future. Indonesia’s information minister, Sofyan Djalil, said, “Microsoft is being realistic. They can’t force developing countries like us to solely use legal software since we can’t afford it. They want us to gradually reduce our use of it.”

Where is the Pakistan govt.? How much do they pay for their software? Legalizing Windows for all govt. computers even for a dollar apiece means buying licenses for MS Office, and all the other programs the govt. is using.

I can imagaine the local Microsoft rep. asking Indonesia a few days after this deal: “So, what do u guys use on these shiny legal windows you just bought?”

Of course, in Pakistan the answer would be somewhere along these lines:
Bureacrat: “Solitaire? oye Aftab, what else do we use?”
Aftab, scratching his head wakes up from his slumber: “ummm… Boss, what computer are you talking about?”
Boss: “The ten computers alloted to us by the Ministry! What are we doing with them???”
Aftab: “But Boss, they never sent us the power leads so we haven’t turned them on yet!”

NADRA uncovers car scam

Thursday, June 9th, 2005

A report published in the The News claims that the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) has uncovered a car scam that involves carmakers producing more cars than they actually declare to evade taxes.

… the 2003 computerization of just 1,000 vehicles’ record, registered with the Islamabad excise and taxation department, has unveiled that several cars have the same chassis and engine numbers allotted already to other cars of the same make … It is believed that the automobile industry is apparently producing more cars than what they declare to evade tax. And to show their actual production matching their declared production, it is said, sets of cars with same chassis and engine numbers are rolled out.

NADRA has proposed a hi-tech (smart chips!) computerized system for storing motor vehicle registration data. They claim that the system will help counter thefts, detect frauds and help with collecting taxes/dues. The project was proposed in 2003 but according to the The News, the car mafia has blocked NADRA’s attempts to launch the project nationally.

800 new IT awarness centres planned

Tuesday, May 31st, 2005

Provincial Minister of IT for Sindh, Mustafa Kamal announced 800 IT awareness centers.

This is not an official press release. It came during his speech at the golden jubilee commemorations of the chemistry department of Karachi University. He offered his profound inisght by adding that IT had significant role to play in the fields of science, especially chemistry and Karachi University’s IT department would play a significant role in the scientific development of the country.

Further, the Chairman of Higher Education Commission (HEC) Dr. Attaur Rehman was honoured with the “Best Student Award”. I think this is a misprint as he is nowhere close to being an academic student.

Anyone have details on these IT centres? What do they have? Who was contracted with building, deploying and managing the existing 35 IT centres?

Iran gas pipeline the easiest option for Pakistan

Friday, May 20th, 2005

Reuters is reporting that the Pakistani government considers the $4 billion Iranian gas pipeline passing through Pakistan, India and possibly China, the easiest to implement for the country.

Pakistan says it faces a major shortage of oil and gas by 2010…Kasuri said Pakistan was depleting its energy reserves so rapidly that it might consider more than one pipeline… “Previously we thought that we wouldn’t require gas for the next 20-30 years, because of our own reserves, but now it’s being depleted so fast that we need gas anyway.”

Pakistan is considering importing gas from Iran, Turkmenistan or Qatar. The government expects to choose two out of the three proposed gas line projects by the the end of this year.