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Pak wants end to misuse of ITCs against any religion

Source: Pak Tribune
Date: December 18, 2003

ISLAMABAD, December 18 (Online): Federal Minister for Information Technology Awais Ahmad Khan Leghari Wednesday said Pakistan had urged the World Summit on Information Society (WSIS) to declare as misuse of the use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) any negative propaganda against religion or portraying any religion, its followers or its elements of faith in an offensive manner.

"We very strongly feel that Pakistan's position on key issues of cyber security and ethics must be clearly covered in the Declaration of Principles to be adopted by WSIS," he said during a press conference after his return from Geneva where he alongside Prime Minister Zafarullah Khan Jamali attended the World Summit on Information Society (WSIS).

He said Pakistan was one of four countries attending the summit, which were given the 'Right to Interpretation'.

"In case of the ethical dimension, Pakistan clearly stated that negative propaganda against religion, creating of misconceptions about religion, faith or its followers, or portraying any religion or its elements of faith in a manner that is offensive constitutes the misuse of ICT," he said, adding Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, and several other Islamic countries forcefully backed and the initiative by Pakistan.

The minister for explaining his deliberations in the round table conference on 'Diversity in Cyberspace', stressed the importance of developing content in local languages and making it accessible to the masses.

He said Pakistan also urged the participants of the conference to help in efforts for the development of softwares in regional languages. Giving the example of Pakistan where there is a large percentage that cannot read or write in English, he said he told the participants the content should be of such a nature that it is of interest to the people and helps them in their daily lives.

He said he also recommended that to improve the accessibility of the content, popular search engines should be able to find the local content as well. "This point was very well received and the conference recorded it as one of the few selected action points in the conclusion."

About Prime Minister Zafarullah Khan Jamali's address to the moot, he said the prime minister highlighted the key issues of network security, transfer of technology, development of affordable solutions that can extend the benefits of the ICT to the masses, and preserving the ethical dimension of society.

"The prime minister emphasized that the resolution of these problems need coordinated efforts at the regional and national level." He said the PM also stated that the real asset of a nation are its people and the human minds, these have to be nurtured and given an opportunity to be part of the ICT revolution.

"The personal presence of the Prime Minister was a clear indication of the priority accorded by the Government to the use of ICT for social and human development within the country." Awais Ahmad Khan Leghari said Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) had developed so rapidly that, in many ways, it had taken the world by surprise. On the one hand, they offer new innovative applications that have tremendous potential for development but on the other hand, they have opened new issues pertaining to security, economic divide, privacy, crime, ethics, virtual migration, cultural heritage, and other aspects of society.

He said the World Summit on the Information Society, organized under the auspices of the United Nations, provided a unique opportunity for all key stakeholders to assemble at a high-level gathering and to develop a better understanding of this revolution and its impact on the international community. It aimed to bring together Heads of State, Executive Heads of United Nations agencies, industry leaders, non-governmental organizations, media representatives and civil society in a single high-level event. Speaking about a panel discussion on the 'Role of Parliaments', the minister for IT highlighted the role of the parliaments in passing related legislation to address cyber crime and security incidents that cross international boundaries.

He said he also underscored the importance of utilizing ICTs as a means of enhancing transparency and enacting legislation which promotes freedom of information on the one hand and protects the privacy of the individuals on the other. The minister said that during his stay in Geneva he also met with the Minister for Science and Technology of Sudan and exchanged views on cooperation in the IT and Telecom sector.

"The minister of Sudan praised the current state of IT and Telecom development in Pakistan and proposed that Pakistan could help in South-South development." Awais said, adding he assured the Sudanese minister Pakistani companies can carry out development projects in Sudan at lower costs than competitive Western counterparts. Awais Leghari told journalists he also met with the CEO of Eutelsat to discuss the valued-added services that can be offered over PAKSAT-I. He said he also met with the CEO of Development Gateway Foundation who briefed the minister on the activities of the Development Gateway which is currently carrying out projects in 57 countries through funding provided by World Bank, UNDP, the private sector and individual countries.

The Federal Minister for IT showed keen interest in implementing, in Pakistan, the Electronic Procurement System that has been deployed in other countries. The CEO informed that all the projects of the Development Gateway were based on Open Source Software Technologies and could be replicated in other countries without any software license fees.

The Minister for IT emphasized that Pakistan does not want to be purely a consumer of technology but would rather like to participate in the development efforts in order to build its indigenous capabilities and create demand for the local companies.

To a question, Awais Leghari said he also met with the Senior Vice President of Microsoft who conveyed to him the desire of the President of Microsoft Corporation, Mr. Bill Gates, to meet with the President of Pakistan at the upcoming World Economic Forum in Davos. The minister whilst appreciating Microsoft's initiative responded that the creation of jobs and the development of the IT industry, by giving them opportunities to prove their worth in the international market, were of paramount importance.

To another question, the minister said the government would never deprive PTCL workers of their means of living and any decision about the PTCL daily-wages workers would be taken by the cabinet and the prime minister. "However, I must assure you that any decision that is taken would be positive and based on justice," he added.

Original article

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