May 08 -21, 2000
Abdul Qayyum Kundi is the chief
of get.pakistan.com, a Houston based web site about Pakistan. As the name suggests,
getPakistan.com it specifically provides vast array of information about the culture,
history and sights of Pakistan. The site not only provides an interactive platform to
share opinions, get the news as well as entertain and enlighten to the net users. The net
users can consult business directories, develop business and personal connections with
other Pakistanis, access job listings and career resources and pursue topics of personal
interests to keep in touch with the Pakistani community worldwide.
Mr. Abdul Quayyum Khan Kundi, CEO, get Pakistan.com is an MBA (from IBA
Karachi) and BE (computer Systems) NED University of engineering & Technology. His
career Started with Zelin (Pvt.) Ltd. an engineering concern as a Management Trainee.
Later worked with EFU Life as a branch manager. Before leaving for US worked with Khadim
Ali Shah Bukhari & Co. as Head of Fixed Income Sales.
PAGE talked to Mr Kundi about the future of IT in Pakistan. The
following are the excerpts of the talk.
PAGE: Mr. Kundi how do you see the future of
e-commerce in Pakistan?
Kundi: For a developing country like Pakistan
e-commerce is not an option but a way to remain competitive with other countries in the
region. According to Internationa Data Corporation (an internet market research firm)
b-2-b transaction volume is expected to reach US$ 1.2 trillion by year 2003. This heavy
penetration demand quick adoption of e-commerce by Pakistan.
PAGE: Do you think we are ready to adopt e-commerce?
Kundi: I see a lot of activity in the country these
days. Educational institutes are doing seminars and committees are formed to discuss
various issues. All this may look good on the surface but I still feel for successful
adoption of e-commerce we need a greater commitment from regulators and private sector.
The key is not identifying the need the key lies in the speed of execution. Unfortunately
we are lagging behind other economies in the region in this regard.
PAGE: Which type of e-commerce you think has a greater
potential. I mean b-2-c or b-2-b?
Kundi: The local infrastructure in Pakistan is not
developed enough to encourage b-2-c. I think b-2-b e-commerce adoption is much more
important for the country. It is this area that needs more attention.
PAGE: What are the issues involved in quick adoption
of b-2-b e-commerce?
Kundi: There has been a lot of discussion going on
this subject. First of all I think we need a regulatory framework to support b-2-b. Once
regulations are in place the automation of public sector is important, departments like
customs, CBR, EPB etc. Traditional red tape in implementation can cause delays. Then the
integration of public sector with private sector to facilitate communication and execution
of trade. Role of public sector is extremely important to lay ground for b-2-b e-commerce.
PAGE: How do you see the progress of IT export of
Kundi: I have two comments on this. First companies
are jumping into this sector without doing due analysis and feasibility of the market.
People are rushing to strike gold and get government funding. People who have no clue what
IT and software is all about are jumping into this field. It is the repetition of what
happened in other sectors like textile. Secondly, we have not analyzed why India has
gained such a ground in international IT industry. Many Indians are at key decision making
positions with major US corporate. According to Wall Street Journal survey there are 764
tecnology companies headed by Indians. These Non-resident Indians (NRI) are channeling
workflow to India. Pakistanis also have a substantial presence in US but our country and
IT industry has not done a good marketing job to use this influential group.
PAGE: What is Pakistanís image in international
Kundi: It is about time that we start facing the
reality. We are portrayed as a country that supports terrorism, has obsolete
infrastructure, low quality work force, and political uncertainty etc. etc. The situation
is not as bad as it is portrayed in the media. What we need is a concerted effort to lift
the country image in international media. Again India and China has done an excellent job
although they have the same problems. Even Bangladesh has improved its image as a fast
developing country. I think it is not the job of the government but of the people who have
PAGE: What are the objectives of
Kundi: getPakistan.com aspires to be a leading virtual
community for Pakistanis. Our objectives are to improve the media image of Pakistan,
promote Pakistani businesses in the international markets, facilitate value added export
of goods and help Pakistani professionals get better jobs abroad.
PAGE: Donít you think this brain drain will hamper
the growth of IT industry?
Kundi: Yes this could be one perspective. But there
are many positive sides to it as well. One, these people can earn much needed foreign
exchange for the country. Two, a person leaving the country in his mid 20s has a greater
chance of coming back to his roots (provided we have a conducive environment for them).
Three, as they rise in position they can channel work to Pakistan. I think the benefits
out weighs the disadvantages.
PAGE: What do you think are the impediments in the
expansion of Internet usage?
Kundi: There are many. Low penetration of PC, high
access cost, high illiteracy, low per capita income etc.
PAGE: How the situation can be improved?
Kundi: cyber cafes are a good way to encourage usage.
It is a good channel for NGOs and social welfare organization to eradicate illiteracy.
Government should encourage special discounts in price for cyber cafes.
PAGE: Do you feel Internet is a threat to our social
Kundi: If one can argue that ignorance is bliss then
yes. But giving people the power of knowledge is no threat to any person or society. Each
individual has the right to know and make decisions.
PAGE: I was referring to the pornograhpic material on
Kundi: This is an individual issue. There are many
softwares available that block indecent content.
PAGE: What do you feel about security of personal data
on the Internet especially credit card information?
Kundi: This is an issue even in the developed
countries. But it can be addressed through encryption, transaction re-confirmation,
carefully reading the privacy statements of companies and taking precautionary measures
before submitting information.