Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday said that the interest behind inviting Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates to Pakistan was to somehow involve him in the country’s IT sector, adding that there would be good news in this regard in the coming days.
He expressed the views while addressing the E-Commerce Pakistan Convention in Islamabad where he was the chief guest. According to Radio Pakistan, the prime minister inaugurated the e-commerce portal to promote and facilitate freelancers and businesses in Pakistan.
Talking about Gates’ recent visit to Pakistan, the prime minister said that he invited him because Gates was among a select few billionaires who had decided to dedicate their time and wealth to helping the world.
“They way he helped with polio in Pakistan, I am surprised. What interest could he have in Pakistan?” he asked, adding that Gates spent a considerable amount of money in Pakistan for polio eradication efforts.
He went on to say that he invited Gates to Pakistan as the aim was to involve him in the country’s IT sector. “So I will not make an announcement right now, but I will deliver good news in the coming days.”
The premier began his speech on a lighthearted tone, stating that the most used sentence since the PTI government came into power was “ghabrana nahin hai” (don’t worry).
“The reason: when we came into government the [situation] was very bad. Everyone knew the country was bankrupt. I knew then that we would go through a tough time [and] I was concerned for my team.”
Recalling his cricketing days, he said that when Pakistan played against the toughest team — West Indies — he had to tell his players “ghabrana na” (don’t worry).
“So when we came into government, I had to first tell my cabinet ghabrana na. And today, I tell the opposition: ghabrana na.”
Commenting on the IT sector, he said that it was primarily “youth-driven”. He noted that those who became billionaires in the sector achieved the feat during their 20s.
“Even today, older people have to work under younger people in the IT sector,” he said, adding that the future was rapidly moving towards digitisation.
“This is a technological revolution which our country and its youth should not miss out on under any circumstance.”
He said that Pakistan was aiming to bring in $50 billion through IT exports within the next few years, highlighting that they had increased from $2bn to around $4.5bn over the past few years.
“We have done some work and given only some incentives [and] our youth has taken advantage of this at once.”
PM Imran vowed that the government would introduce more incentives and would remove obstacles after consultations in an effort to facilitate the country’s youth.
He also announced that government had decided to exempt registered freelancers from taxes.
During his speech, the prime minister also talked about the amount of talent in the country which had not reached its full potential due to the systems in place.
“Pakistanis have strange genes: they excel whenever they are provided with an opportunity. But the system that evolved after independence does not give the majority the chance to [excel].”
Giving another example from his cricketing days, PM Imran said that he learnt how to play the sport after playing in England. “After learning cricket for three to four years, when I came to Pakistan I realised that no other country has as much talent as Pakistan does despite us not having systems in place.”
He said that countries such as England and Australia had systems in place that allowed for talented people to excel. He added that when choosing his team as captain, he chose players from club cricket or the under-19 team.
“This can only happen in a country that God has blessed with talent.” He went on to say that the country’s cricket structure was being changed, stating that it would perhaps make Pakistan one of the “cricketing giants”.
“We will have to do the same thing in other areas,” he said, noting that the education system was stopping talented individuals from excelling. PM Imran said that the government was also working on this and had introduced the single national curriculum in an effort to build a nation.
“IT is related to this because it is our future,” he said, adding that the government was spending money on training the country’s youth.
He also said that IT provided women with an opportunity to excel. “There are several problems. Sometimes they are cultural problems, sometimes the parents worry about the environment their daughter works in. So this provides the most easy opportunity.”
He concluded his speech by saying that the government would continue to create opportunities and facilitate the people.