Pakistan is looking forward to have its first island
technology park. The launching ceremony of the project called "Karachi
Technology Island City" was held at Marina Club on the 7th of this
The project, the first of its kind in the country,
envisions to turn an un-inhabited 300-acre island near Karachi into a
Technology Park. The City District Government of Karachi, Army Welfare
Trust, private software house EDP Services are the partners of the
project while its patron is PASHA, Pakistan Software Houses Association
which is a representative body of about 200 software houses nationwide.
The funding for the project will be provided by AccessCAPITAL, a venture
capital company based in Thailand.
The island is owned by the City Government which has
agreed to provide not only the 'land' but also all basic amenities to
the Island technology park while a number of reputable companies such as
Intel and Microsoft have expressed interest in the project. Terming the
development of a technology city 'an old dream' City Nazim
(Administrator) Naimatullah Khan said in his welcome address that it
would help provide some 50,000 employment opportunities.
PAGE talked to the Executive Vice President of
AccessCAPITAL for Asia region, Marfred J. Pranada, who was present in
Karachi to attend the launching ceremony. Marfred told PAGE that he is
dealing with the legal structure and the implementation of the joint
venture project, its first in Pakistan. He told PAGE that AccessCAPITAL
had made the first personal contact with the partners of the project and
would only decide about the specific funds for the project later.
The launching ceremony of the 'Karachi Technology
Island City (KTIC)" shows that private sector is capable of initiating,
and hopefully implementing, projects on its own with help from the
public sector, in this case the City Government. The ceremony was the
culmination of the efforts made by Hamza Matin, the former President of
PASHA, over last five months when he started discussing the project with
the chief executive of AccessCAPITAL, Raja S. Bashir, a Pakistani
expatriate. Mr. Bashir was expected to be present at the launching
ceremony but due to some important engagements in the US he was unable
to attend it and was thus represented by Mr. Pranada.
Mr. Pranada informed PAGE that Mr. Bashir is keenly
interested to promote Pakistan wherever he can and is thinking of
establishing a joint venture company here to help local companies and
small and medium entrepreneurs access the US and Asian markets. "We hope
to explore this opportunity with our partners here in KTIC for future
involvement as well."
Calling launching ceremony of KTIC a historic event
Mr. Pranada said that it was important in two ways specifically. "Number
one, it sends a strong message that Pakistan now wants to play a
significant role in the global IT industry. And secondly, KTIC will
promote the IT industry in Pakistan, but also strengthen the leadership
of Karachi as a gateway to Central Asia and Middle East."
He hoped that KTIC will help "correct the current
situation in Karachi which despite housing 70 per cent of software
houses in Pakistan contribute just 30 per cent in total software exports
of the country." He also expressed hope that establishment of KTIC will
help achieve three important objectives — enhancing economic growth,
attracting foreign investment and reducing unemployment.
He, however, also highlighted difficulties related to
obtaining a visa at the Pakistani Embassy. Citing his own example he
said that he almost missed the signing of the Memorandum of
Understanding due to difficulties to get a business visa at the
PAGE had the unique opportunity to not only see the
island from a safe distance from a speedboat but also from close
proximity. In fact, this correspondent and a number of other media
people including a team of Geo News channel had a picnic of sorts when
they got stranded near the island for a couple of hours waiting from
'rescue.' How did we had such unique opportunity to walk on the future
island technology park?
About seven of us were taken on a speedboat to see
the island from a proximity. The Geo team wanted to talk to Hamza Matin
with the island in the background and asked the driver of the speedboat
to turn off the motor so that the noise did not affect the recording. By
the time we realized that it was the time for lowtide the speedboat was
stuck in waters which was turned pretty shallow. Despite several
attempts including turning the throttle to maximum and collective
pushing the boat remained stuck. Several attempts by a friendly
fishermen of a fishing boat to tow the speedboat from a distance by a
rope also failed as ropes broke one after another. Finally, SOS calls on
mobile phones to Marina Club brought another speedboat which had to be
boarded in safe waters which require walking a good distance on and
around the island. The driver of the stuck speedboat had to stay behind
for another five hours to pull it out when the hightide filled up the
The Island technology park, if and when it would be
developed, would remain etched in memories of all of us who really saw
the island with a close proximity.