Pakistan’s IT talent knows no bounds and is acknowledged globally. Still, the country’s IT ministry seems to be inclined towards spending large sums of the taxpayer’s money on importing skilled IT professionals from abroad. In a recent episode of the TV program titled “Mad e Muqabil” on GTV, the veteran investigative journalist, Rauf Klasra, revealed that the cabinet had approved an E-voting consultant for the IT ministry, costing the taxpayers a staggering 28 crores.
The appointment could mark the hiring of “The most expensive consultant in Pakistan’s history.”
Criticizing the government, the journalist said in a tweet that the government has funds to gain cabinet approval for the appointment of a foreign IT consultant but doesn’t have enough to procure COVID-19 vaccines.
اور کل ہی کابینہ میں 28 کروڑ روپے معاوضے پر ایک غیر ملکی کنسلٹنٹ بھرتی کرنے کی منظوری دی گئی جو بیرون ملک پاکستانیوں سے ووٹ لینے کا طریقہ بتائے گا لیکن ویکسین کے لیے ابھی پیسے نہیں ہیں۔ فواد چوہدری اور علی زیدی نے اعتراض بھی کیا لیکن نقار خانے میں طوطی کی آواز نہ سنی گئی۔ https://t.co/sRDs7qYHAY
— Rauf Klasra (@KlasraRauf) April 21, 2021
According to the details presented by the journalist, the IT ministry had submitted a summary to the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) for the approval of funds to hire a Spanish consultant to advise on the establishment of an E-voting system to enable voting for the overseas Pakistanis. Apparently, the Prime Minister is motivated by the prospect of adding some 4-5 million votes to his vote bank via the E-voting system, considering the support he enjoys abroad.
The journalist during the show remarked sarcastically, “Pakistanis make tall claims about their achievements in the field of IT, but they should realize the ground reality that is, not one Pakistani is qualified enough to be hired to consult for the E-voting system.”
Ali Zaidi and Fawad Chaudhary were the only two government ministers who raised objections against the step and asked what justifies this exorbitant expense. According to Klasra’s “sources,” the ministers lambasted the IT ministry for making it a “fashion” to hire consultants for every minor purpose. However, eventually, the objections went in vain since Imran Khan rejected the ministers’ arguments and the summary was approved.
Klasra also questioned the National Information Technology Board (NITB)’s head, Shabahat Ali Shah, who is also being paid a handsome amount and was brought in as a foreign professional, alongside other government IT bodies falling short of the expertise required for the E-voting system.