Our first-ever Regional INET conference in Pakistan, from Nov 16-18 in Islamabad, proved to be a huge success, both in terms of substance and lively participation. INET Islamabad brought into picture concrete opinions and action items to help in Pakistan’s journey towards a Digital Economy; and in building its ICT agenda based on sustainable development.
The event was hosted by the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) and backed by the telecommunication industry of Pakistan. It featured both international and national subject matter experts from various sectors with broad experience, globally and nationally, in ICT, policymaking and development.
The two plenary days of the conference was attended by over 400 participants and had an online audience of some 600 people from around the world. There were also close to 2,000 tweets using #INETISB and social media reports tell us this had a reach of some 270,000. International speakers from UN ESCAP, ITU, APT, LIRNEasia, ISACA, Red Hat and other premier organisations helped further the dialogue with their thoughts on:
- Infrastructure and Connectivity for Sustainable Development
- e-Gov Architecture, Standards and Implementation
- Building Trust in Cyberspace
- Growth of ICT Industry
- Digital Financial Inclusion
- Shaping the Move towards a Digital Economy for Pakistan
There were several government dignitaries in attendance including the chief guest at the opening, Hon. Barrister Zafarullah Khan, Special Advisor to the Prime Minister. During his closing keynote, Mr. Miftah Ismail, Chairman of the Board of Investment in Pakistan applauded and acknowledged the efforts of the Internet Society Asia-Pacific Bureau and PTA in bringing these issues for discussion at the national level and the important role the Internet and ICTs play, highlighting the Internet as one of mankind’s greatest inventions.
The first day of the event featured the opening reception with invited guests from the Pakistan ICT industry, and Prof. Gihan Dias from the ISOC Board of Trustees delivering the opening keynote. Earlier in the day we also hosted Pakistan’s first CxO roundtable for the telecom industry to engage in dialogue with the government on current issues, challenges and future opportunities. This was moderated by ISOC’s Bureau Director for Asia-Pacific, Rajnesh Singh, and also included representatives from ITU and APT.
During the conference we held a media briefing on the ISOC-ADB-UNESCAP regional study on unleashing the potential of the Internet in 10 countries covering Central Asia, the Caucuses and South Asia, including Pakistan and Afghanistan. The briefing focused on Pakistan’s potential in the region.
On the final day of the conference, we took the opportunity to launch the Urdu language version of our interactive tutorials on online identity and privacy, which was also well received by the audience and generated some media commentary.
INET Islamabad achieved significant exposure for the Internet Society in Pakistan – there were over 100 media spots including live TV, print and online. It also laid the foundation for discussions on how the digital economy can benefit Pakistan, and was acknowledged as the largest and most important event of its kind to be held in Pakistan. Discussions are already underway for follow-up action by various stakeholders in the country and ISOC’s Asia-Pacific Bureau remains committed to assist in this process.