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An interview with Mohsin Iqbal, Intel's Country Manager for Pakistan

August 23 - 29, 1999

The most important point to remember regarding Y2K is that every individual is prone to potentially adverse impact of non-compliance. However, the large corporates using computers, embedded chips and linked with international operations, face serious pressures. The mandatory compliance requirement by regulators further enhances the pressure. As the deadline is non-negotiable and time is running fast it will be more appropriate for every one to identify the critical systems and work on contingency plans to keep the operations normal at the beginning of next millennium. The hazard is not confined to just change of date but interruptions could appear any time in the next century. This was a piece of advice to all the Pakistanis by Mohsin Iqbal, Country Manager, Intel, for Pakistan.

The key issue is that most of Pakistanis still suffer from lack of awareness. However, they must realize that every one uses a lot of equipment which have embedded chips. Therefore, it is necessary to take an inventory of all such equipment and ensure that they are Y2K compliant. It will not be exaggeration to say that even the security system installed at the entrance of an office may malfunction and staff may not be able to enter the office. Therefore, it may not matter that all the equipment installed in that particular office are fully Y2K compliant. The situation demands that each operation or equipment should be compliant to Y2K, be it security system or sophisticated computer system.

Government of Pakistan has initiated Y2K awareness programmes with the help of National Task Force of Pakistan Computer Bureau. Intel has been proactive and providing the best possible support not only in creating awareness but also helping in finding solutions. However, if any one is not willing to listen, take remedial steps only regulators can ensure Y2K compliance. While it may be true that non-compliance of Y2K may not affect an individual, it may result in serious interruptions in some key sectors.

The role of regulators in ensuring compliance to Y2K has played a key role globally. In many countries now even penalties are applicable if the systems are not Y2K compliant. Though, this has added the pressure, it may be the only way to ensure compliance. In this regard State Bank of Pakistan has been playing an important role to ensure Y2K compliance by all the commercial banks.

However, Mohsin was a little skeptical about the pace of the Y2K compliance in the public sector. Although, the public sector corporations suffer from poor cash flow situation, these entities are very important and must achieve compliance of all their critical systems at the earliest.

He suggested that due to paucity of time many entities need to work on contingency plans now to keep their operations normal in the next millennium. They still have some time to approach the suppliers and upgrade their critical systems to ensure prompt compliance. At the same time they should also try to take the inventory of all their systems having embedded chips, upgrade them as these entities cannot afford any malfunctioning due to sensitivity of the operations.

Mohsin also suggests that even those entities which have achieved Y2K compliance should conduct an internal audit based on internationally tested methodology. Referring to one such methodology he mentioned the name of Gartner Group and International Telecommunication Union who could be reached for assistance. Many of the strategies, models and advice that Gartner Group has presented to enterprises and governments are equally applicable to individual use to expose and address the Y2K problem.

To conclude, Mohsin once again reiterated that it is necessary to understand the risk associated with Y2K. If the entities do not have suitable in-house expertise they should hire the services of an external consultant. In his opinion many companies have started too late to complete the job in time to avoid damage; have not secured adequate funding and are under-staffed. Still they have to achieve the compliance and there cannot be short cuts.