Internet disparity

Let us not mistake the internet as a mere platform for entertainment


April 23, 2021

Pakistan seems to be on a slippery slope this year as the country continues to show dismal performance in international rankings. First it was the Corruption Perceptions Index, then the Global Gender Gap Index, and now Pakistan has managed to dropped down to the 90th ranking, out of 120, on the Inclusive Internet Index — second to last in the Asia region. The report not only highlights the lack of broadband and signal boosting infrastructure in the country, but it unveils the disproportionate use of what should now be considered as a basic facility for all.

The digital landscape in Pakistan is fractured across 3 main lines: 1) Geography — apart from security concerns, since infrastructure is mostly either absent or undeveloped in rural, impoverished and far-flung areas of Pakistan, most people there have little to no internet access; 2) Gender — owing to social norms and stigmas attached to the female gender, the “Gender Gap in Internet Access” between male and female is a staggering 65% as many families tend to restrict the use of internet; and 3) Class — while Pakistan has done relatively well in the affordability category of the study, ranked 67th, the cost of access is still considerably high because of which data availability between social classes may vary.

Let us not mistake the internet as a mere platform for entertainment. In an age where technology is at the forefront, the internet becomes increasingly important – and all the more dangerous too.

It is used to rapidly disseminate information, for dissent, as a professional tool, and for academic purposes. The raging pandemic has further amplified our dependence on it. A major factor why major investors are willing to invest in India is because they have developed a Silicon Valley of their own.

On the other hand, Pakistan has not managed to pull itself out of the past. In order for the country to progress, develop and compete in the international arena, the authorities need to seriously consider broadening the technological landscape of the country.

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