Last week, regional representatives of three I* organizations–APNIC, ICANN and ISOC–were in Islamabad to speak at a one-day workshop on “Internet Governance and the Role of its Stakeholders”. The workshop was organized and hosted by the Ministry of Information Technology and Telecom in Pakistan.
The workshop echoed the strong will of the Government of Pakistan to build future partnerships and have stakeholders work together on possible areas of collaboration. “After the successful auction of 3G and 4G in Pakistan, the next focus of the government is Internet governance,” said the Minister of State for Information Technology and Telecom. Mr. Ahsan Iqbal, Federal Minister for Planning Development and Reforms, added that, “this workshop has given an opportunity for mutual learning and sharing of views with experts and stakeholders from a variety of fields involved in the Internet ecosystem. ICANN, APNIC, and ISOC have a critical role to support the development of this system.”
Last year, the ISOC Asia-Pacific Bureau organized its regional series, the Asia Internet Symposium (AIS) in Islamabad on “Internet Governance in Pakistan; Building multi-stakeholder collaboration” and this workshop by the Ministry indicates that the country is making headway in connecting stakeholders and further strengthening discussions on Internet governance.
While in Pakistan, the I* organizations held several outreach meetings with stakeholders including the office of the regulator, ISPs, a mobile operator, and civil society groups. The Pakistani community expressed a strong desire to learn more about these organizations, as well as the opportunities for involvement in their activities. Some of the areas identified during the week were technical capacity building, facilitating technical community groups like NOGs, supporting Internet governance discussions and maintaining a regular communication channel. With over 30 million Internet users, half of which use the Internet over mobile, Pakistan is clearly an emerging market in the region.
During the week, we acknowledged prospects for more engagement and work by the regional offices of the three I* organizations – something to celebrate for this ISOC staff member based in Islamabad.
Pakistan is covered by the Asia-Pacific offices of ISOC and APNIC; the country comes under the Middle-East region for ICANN.