- Discussions focus on opening of a contact office in Pakistan soon and investment plans.
- Minister says Facebook users to double in next few years after connectivity projects are completed.
- Meta expresses satisfaction over rapidly expanding connectivity and increase in the number of internet users in Pakistan.
Federal Minister for Information Technology and Telecommunication Syed Aminul Haque on Wednesday called on Meta, the parent company of Facebook, to open its office in Pakistan.
In a series of tweets, the Ministry of IT & Telecom shared that the minister met a high-level delegation from Meta in Romania. It added that the discussions focused on the opening of a contact office in Pakistan soon and investment.
The meeting was attended by Pakistan’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Geneva Office Khalil Hashmi, and Pakistan’s Ambassador to Romania Dr Zafar Iqbal. While Chief Executive Universal Service Fund Haris Mahmood Chaudhry briefed the delegation about the broadband services projects in Pakistan.
The Facebook delegation included Dr Ismail Shah, Dr Robert Pepper, Thomas Navin, Michael Setlin, Mark Gerward and Alaria Bencivenga.
“There are more than 45 million Facebook users among Pakistan’s 220 million population. This number will double in the next few years after the connectivity projects are completed. It is important that Facebook establish its office in Pakistan for immediate communication with users,” Haque was quoted by the ministry.
On the other hand, the ministry claimed that Meta expressed satisfaction over the rapidly expanding connectivity and increase in the number of internet users in Pakistan.
“The use of the metaverse and the future of the Internet require mutual cooperation. Pakistan can get long-term economic benefits from Metaverse,” said the delegation, adding that its team will visit Pakistan soon.
This is the second time this month that a Cabinet member has asked Meta to open its office in Pakistan.
Last week, Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari asked a high-ranking Meta official to open their company’s office in Pakistan in a bid to facilitate communication between the local authorities and the social media giant.
The foreign minister met Meta’s Global Affairs President Nick Clegg on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly’s (UNGA) 77th session, where he is part of the delegation representing Pakistan.
The foreign minister, talking about the opportunities available in Pakistan, said that the country has a tech-savvy young population (64% below the age of 30), high teledensity, massive digitisation of the economy, and a business-friendly regulatory regime.
“Pakistan’s IT sector has registered strong growth in the recent past opening new opportunities for platforms like Meta to expand its operations in Pakistan”, the foreign minister told the social media company’s official.
Clegg said that Meta’s Pakistan team comprises entirely of Pakistani professionals. He briefed the foreign minister on Meta’s ongoing connectivity and capacity-building programmes in Pakistan.
Clegg reaffirmed Meta’s interest in continued engagement with Pakistan to explore modalities of further strengthening collaboration in digital space.
In October last year, the government introduced Removal and Blocking of Unlawful Online Content (Procedure, Oversight and Safeguards) Rules, 2021, directing social media platforms to register themselves with the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA). However, it has borne no fruit so far.