AI governance: sine qua non for sustainable digital future

The writer is PhD in Public Administration and LLM from Yong Pung How School of Law, Singapore Management University Singapore. He is also author of book ‘Basics of Governance & Public Policy’. Currently, he is working as PRO, Supreme Court of Pakistan and can be reached @


Generative AI has rapidly advanced, showcasing transformative potential across industries such as personalised healthcare, finance and legal services. However, it also presents risks like amplifying biases, violating privacy and creating convincing fake content, raising concerns about misinformation, defamation and intellectual property rights. Effective AI governance is essential to navigate these challenges, ensuring responsible practices and transparency. AI governance refers to the framework of policies, regulations and practices that guide AI development, deployment and use. Its primary goal is to ensure ethical, transparent and responsible AI use, protecting individuals and society while fostering innovation. In Pakistan, AI’s rapid advancement has brought significant benefits but also posed challenges in privacy, security and ethics.

In Pakistan, setting up effective AI governance involves establishing an ethics board with diverse expertise, including AI ethicists and compliance officers, to oversee AI projects from ideation to deployment. This board should ensure alignment with ethical standards, operate independently from business pressures and be involved at key project milestones. Addressing biases proactively, ensuring diverse training data and protecting privacy through robust data management practices are essential. Promoting an organisational culture that values ethical AI, developing compliance workflows and conducting regular independent audits, are crucial components. This multi-layered approach will help mitigate risks, ensure accountability and foster trust in AI systems.

Globally, AI governance is evolving rapidly, with efforts to establish comprehensive regulatory frameworks. Examples include the EU AI Act, Canada’s compliance checks for high-risk systems, the US’s AI Risk Management Framework, the UK’s innovation-friendly stance and China’s interim enforceable rules. Pakistan must stay informed about these developments and adapt its practices accordingly. The EU AI Act, with its risk-based categorisation, provides a valuable model. Pakistan can draw inspiration from this approach, embedding ethics by design to promote transparency, fairness and accountability. Global cooperation is also essential to avoid fragmented regulations and ensure equitable and trustworthy AI deployment.

Regarding legislation, Pakistan should focus on creating laws to address AI-generated fake content. This includes establishing clear definitions and penalties for creating and disseminating fake content and promoting technological solutions for detecting and flagging such material. Encouraging transparency from technology companies and requiring robust verification processes are essential. Additionally, Pakistan should balance freedom of expression and defamation, ensuring AI governance protects against malicious use of AI while respecting individual rights. The future scope of AI governance in Pakistan involves proactive skills development and ethical technology use, emphasising awareness and continuous refinement. As AI transforms industries, effective change management becomes essential. By balancing innovation with necessary oversight, Pakistan can harness AI’s benefits while minimising risks, ensuring a sustainable digital future that benefits society at large.

AI governance can help build a secure environment for end-users and e-commerce businesses in Pakistan by implementing several key measures. Establishing clear and comprehensive laws that address ethical AI use is crucial. This includes data protection regulations to ensure user data privacy and prevent unauthorised access or misuse. Requiring AI developers and companies to be transparent about their algorithms helps build user trust and ensures responsible AI applications. Developing and enforcing ethical guidelines for AI use involves creating standards to prevent discrimination, misinformation, or human rights infringement. Promoting AI literacy among the public and businesses helps people make informed decisions about AI technologies. Encouraging collaboration between government bodies, industry stakeholders and international organisations creates a unified approach to AI governance, facilitating the sharing of best practices and addressing cross-border challenges effectively.

Pakistan has made notable strides in the AI and IT sectors, with the IT industry becoming one of the fastest-growing sectors in the economy. Initiatives like the Digital Pakistan Policy aim to enhance digital infrastructure, promote IT literacy and foster innovation and entrepreneurship. However, challenges such as inadequate infrastructure, limited access to high-quality education and a lack of skilled workforce need to be addressed to fully realise AI’s potential. To improve AI governance in Pakistan, several steps can be taken. Developing robust AI-specific laws addressing data privacy, ethical use and accountability is essential. Establishing dedicated regulatory bodies or agencies like the National Centre for Cyber Security (NCCI) overseeing AI development and deployment can ensure compliance with standards. Encouraging innovation by investing in AI research and development can be achieved through government funding, incentives for private sector investment and fostering academic-industry collaboration. Engaging stakeholders in policymaking ensures AI governance reflects societal needs and concerns. Participating in international AI governance forums and adopting best practices from other countries helps Pakistan stay updated with global trends and standards. By implementing these measures and leveraging the role of NCCI, Pakistan can create a secure and conducive environment for AI growth, benefiting end-users and e-commerce businesses while safeguarding ethical and privacy concerns. This balanced approach will help Pakistan harness AI’s full potential, driving economic growth and societal progress while contributing to SDG 9.5.


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