PR No. 159Anusha Urges Consensus On Global Agenda For Use Of Icts To Achieve Sustainable Development Goals Islamabad: December 16, 2015

Minister of State for IT, Mrs. Anusha Rahman Khan, delivering her policy statement at the UN General Assembly High level meeting in New York emphasized the need for global policy consensus to maximize the utility of ICTs for achievement of the recently adopted Sustainable Development Goals. The General assembly is in session at the UN Headquarters in New York to conduct a review of the achievements of World Summit on Information Society (WSIS) over the past decade.  While thanking the co-facilitators of the review process for a comprehensive intergovernmental stakeholder approach the minister said that “Today we recognize ICT as true drivers of economic growth with immense potential to transform lives of people and societies. However, I believe there is still a lot to be derived from the utility embedded in ICTs”. She further added that the Pakistani Government under the visionary leadership of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif fully realizes the potential of ICTs to spur socio-economic growth.

While laying down the policy priorities of the government she said that Pakistan considered ICTs to be a key enabler to achieve efficiency, transparency, good governance and empowering the people. The government is pursuing the vision of accelerated digitization to transform Pakistan into a knowledge based economy. In terms of ICT initiatives the focus remains on ubiquitous development of ICT infrastructure across the country with special emphasis on serving marginalized segments of the society and bridging the digital divide. She also informed the high level meeting that special projects to empower women and girls through ICTs had been launched and broadband proliferation is GoP’s policy priority.  To contribute to achievement of SDGs Our Telecommunication Policy 2015 is very much aligned with the Post 2015 agenda. WSIS Action Lines, during the past decade, have been very elaborate in terms of creating inclusiveness, connectivity, safety & security. These very concepts will continue to be relevant and significant in the global community’s quest to achieve targets laid down by the Sustainable Development Goals.

While appreciating the level of connectivity achieved during the past decade she highlighted the need to continually address the issue of bridging digital divides in all manifestations among and within countries so that the remaining population can also have access to the immense knowledge platforms.
Speaking  on other important policy questions  of internet governance and cyber security which are also under review of the GA, the minister highlighted the need to address worrisome trends in the use of cyberspace have emerged over the years. The concerns over safety and security potentially impede the objective of accelerated development and affect the confidence of people in using applications and services offered to traverse the cyberspace. Malicious and criminal activity over the internet that has increased manifold during the recent years and cyber attacks against critical infrastructure and information systems being a growing global menace needed effective response. She further remarked that the cyber criminal activity which represents dark side of internet needs to be dealt collectively through collaborative efforts. In this context there is also a need to build capacity among nations to effectively address emerging issues.

Addressing the need to manage other emerging challenges such as protecting intellectual property rights and privacy she called for a particular focus on these areas and the need to work together to ensure that the rights of individuals offline are appropriately covered online. This is needed to instill confidence in the users for safe and secure use of the global internet. The statement also highlighted the increasing need for transparency in governance and management of the internet which should provide for participation of all stakeholders.  The principle of mutual respect and mutual trust hold paramount importance in governance models particularly as they relate to the Internet. However the stakeholders need to focus on their respective roles so that internet continues to be vibrant, innovative and a dynamic information platform.
The policy statement of the Minister after addressing all issues of consideration by the GA forum, concluded that Pakistan had always followed the policy of free flow of information and open access to the internet. “There will be a continued support and assistance from Pakistan in initiatives aimed at achieving the globally shared goal of socio-economic development through safe and secure use of ICTs” the Minister added.