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Tech Giants and Discrimination Against Pakistan

Paypal is by far the most dominant way on the internet to carry out transactions. Itís safe, secure and protects from fraud. Not to mention that it is also universally accepted, and on many websites, itís the only way to pay/receive money.

One would naturally assume that giants like Paypal would be offering their services in Pakistan. Surprisingly they donít. They offer their services to around 190 countries which also include Ethiopia and Somalia.

Its not even like they havenít expanded to this region yet, itís available in almost all neighboring countries Ė and If you send them an enquiry, all you get is a preformatted letter about how theyíre trying their best to expand to other countries without giving a proper reason.

It does not end here, itís not only Paypal Ė even Google doesnít operate an office here. But our neighbors India has four. Nokia is a household name here, and Pakistan generates substantial revenue for the phone giant. But it doesnít even own a local website for our country. Bangladesh has one, but we donít.

Its not only the examples Iíve quoted here, the trend is prevalent among many companies. But why is this so? Why donít companies bother with having proper representation in Pakistan?

Maybe it is one of the downsides of being labeled as a terrorist country. The increasing number of bomb blasts and terrorist activities donít exactly paint an appealing picture for the investors to start new business ventures.

We may believe that it could be deliberate act on the part of these companies but maybe they have a misconception that it simply isnít worth to invest time and resources for Pakistan.

The conspiracy theorists amongst us might say that these companies not expanding to Pakistan is a politically motivated ploy. Internet trade is worth billions of dollars and if used correctly, it can really bring some massive money into the country Ė which some may donít want to happen. And it suits some countries better if Pakistan remains debt ridden. So is it really the reason? We can only speculate.

Another possibility is that in Pakistan they donít see an attractive option. It could be due to multiple reasons. In case of PayPal, It could be that they donít think our banking infrastructure is stable enough; it could be that our legal structure isnít solid enough to provide them security or maybe simply because of corruption.

Other fears might include enabling terrorist funding. Pretty much the same arguments can be made for many of the companies that donít expand to Pakistan.

Google for instance is good to earn millions of dollars from the population of Pakistan, but they arenít here in Pakistan Ė maybe to avoid any legal obligations, or to avoid taxes? (BTW I am not sure if Google is liable to pay tax if it earns money from a Pakistani business)

They donít realize the potential. But the fact is that Pakistan is an emerging market and one of the most promising too. These companies need to get over their fears and the government should help in alleviating them.

Weíre living in the internet age. Everything has a 2.0 attached to it. And whether it is that we lack the ability to deal in currency through PayPal or the absence of the most influential internet giants of this age, it needs to be looked into.

Moreover, it is also the responsibility of the media to highlight such matters of concern. Itís the media that has to play a key role (given our government is hell busy in deepening their pockets and quarreling each other), in alleviating the soft image of Pakistan.

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