Over the past decade, Pakistan has been in its worst economic crisis ever because of various reasons, including, but not limited to, terrorism, the energy crisis and corrupt government. The country’s reputation in the world is on a steep decline. Pakistan used to be renowned for the production and exportation of textile products. Now, most of the textile units have been moved to Malaysia and Bangladesh. The main reasons are electricity issues, bribes from various authorities and unnecessary taxes.
The only industry that was doing well, despite Pakistan’s international reputation, was the IT industry. With the highly skilled and comparatively cheaper manpower, Pakistan has distinguished itself as an outsourcing destination. A senior programmer is earning 11% of what an American developer of the same skill set earns. Pakistan has an estimated 100,000 to 200,000 IT professionals who are employed in the outsourcing and software export activities. This industry has a lot of potential and capacity to grow, and it has been growing 25% per year in terms of direct export revenue generation. Currently 1500+ registered companies are operating in Pakistan.
A drone was dropped on this progress by the PTA last week, when they blocked hundreds and thousands of IPs. Companies that were outsourcing their developers and were connected to their clients via VPN are now idle because PTA has blocked all the VPN accesses. Hundreds of companies and thousands of IT professionals are about to lose business and jobs respectively. PTA has taken this step to encounter the “grey traffic” and VOIP issue. By not having trained IT Professionals, equipment and adequate training to use this filtering equipment, it has turned out to be a nightmare for the IT business in this county.
The role of PSEB (Pakistan Software Export Board) is questionable in this situation and has exposed the integration and communication loopholes between these very important institutions of this country. It’s a basic administration rule that whenever any policy is implemented as rule of thumb, all those areas that could be affected by it are identified. PTA should have coordinated with PSEB and asked for the list of IPs used by all the PSEB registered companies to avoid the damage that has occurred now.
When PTA representatives were asked to resolve this issue, they sent a form and a long procedure was started. A lot of companies have lost their valuable clients over this policy developed by the government of Pakistan.
In order to avoid this situation and minimize further damage, PTA should take two steps immediately.
- Speed up the process of unblocking the designated IPs mentioned in the lists sent by PSEB registered software houses.
- Collect the list of IPs from the PSEB registered software houses/call centers and allocate the most optimized Internet routes to them.
This matter requires the special attention of the Ministry of IT (Pakistan), PSEB and the higher management of PTA. Any delay to resolve this issue will cause unresolvable damage, which this country can’t bear in the worst economic circumstances.