An interview with Mohsin Iqbal,
Intel's Country Manager for Pakistan
By SHABBIR H. KAZMI
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
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.