disconnect

Share this article

Facebook
Twitter
LinkedIn

In two key senses of the term, our nation is suffering from a profound disconnect. The first is in the practical sense, where an ever-extending period of deliberate internet disconnection is having serious ramifications in those sectors of the economy that still appear to function. The second is in the abstract sense, where the aspirations of the people are disconnected from a very narrow private base’s political and economic adhocracy.The two are intertwined, and both must be resolved for the restoration of normalcy on the path to national development. The internet ban was ostensibly imposed on security grounds, as mobs can organize and mobilize quickly using Twitter and other social media, at the same time that the public can be barraged with, and triggered by, excess audiovisual stimuli during an episode of social strain. As usual, however, such a security logic has superseded the logic of the economy. Since 2022, many sectors (particularly large-scale manufacturing) have been paralyzed by both global monetary contraction (American stupidity) and by actions here (our stupidity).

Yet a few of the resilient sectors during this period have included IT, freelancing, telecom, and the gig-economy. All of these are extremely internet dependent, and nationwide disruption of the worldwide web means that these sectors fall by the wayside quickly. Estimates from the first three days of the nationwide internet ban suggest that the IT sector suffered a devastating loss of Rs10 billion, while the telecom sector suffered a loss of Rs2.5 billion. One may deduce that the government has therefore lost tax revenue of nearly one billion rupees in just a matter of days. The freelancing sector, already facing disruptions from generative AI tools, has seen large unreported losses due to freelancers missing short deadlines. Meanwhile, the tens of thousands of people working in the gig economy (ride sharing, delivery etc.) have not been able to service people because of the blocking of internet geolocation.

Therefore, the telecom sector’s losses have serious tax consequences, the IT sector’s losses have both monetary and reputational consequences, while the freelancing and gig sectors have serious revenue and employment consequences. In a country of largely young people, furthermore, the government is not doing itself any favors by stifling internet usage. There are bypassing tools such as VPNs that allow them to get by, but with the added frustrations of functionality, and without the government actually preventing mob emergence. Yet the government has been adamant in restricting the internet for tens of millions of people, as if this would strengthen its hand.

In fact, this is where the abstractive disconnect of elite agenda vs. the people’s aspirations comes into play. As per the Constitution of Pakistan, there are specific, well-defined measures for respecting the aspirations of the people and for fostering stability and continuity in government. The constitution is a sacrosanct document, and one which resonates with the sentiments of the public. Yet it is being trampled upon left-right-and-centre as part of an adhocracy. This foments the rage and nullifies the security logic through which restrictions are placed in the first place. The only restrictions required are those that are laid out in the national compact, towards the attainment of the goals enumerated in the national compact.

Once this is the target towards which all classes of Pakistan advance, including its domineering narrow pinnacle class, the basis of political stability can be cemented, upon which economic development can be undertaken under stable conditions and for a sustained duration. In the meantime, one should not expect a mob of tens of thousands, but of tens of millions to erupt. The people are, at varying degrees of intensity and fervor, connected by common threads of care for the nation. Yet there is a disconnect between the people and those above the people, one manifestation of which is the internet ban that is in place indefinitely. Things cannot continue in this manner, lest the disconnect turn into something of a rupture instead.

Dr. Usman W. Chohan is Advisor (Economic Affairs and National Development) at the Centre for Aerospace & Security Studies, Islamabad, Pakistan. He can be reached at cass.thinkers@casstt.com

Image Design: Dr. Usman W. Chohan

Recent Publications

Browse through the list of recent publications.

Humans in the Age of Generative AI

As the fourth Industrial Revolution unfolds, Artificial Intelligence – devouring computational power and big data – is fuelling an ‘AI Spring.’ This article outlines the trends in Generative AI and explores the need to invest in human capital through upskilling/reskilling programmes amid fears of AI replacing humans. It attempts to reframe the conversation and larger vision in a positive light such that primacy remains with humans.
  36 views

Read More »

The Conundrum of TTP in Pak-Afghan Relations

Over several decades, Pak-Afghan relations have been characterised by phases of turbulence and stability. The current phase of bilateral relations is also marked by relative friction between the two neighbours. The primary reason for the strained relationship is Pakistan’s concern about either the inability or lack of will by the interim Afghan government to rein in Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).
22 views

Read More »

Work-from-Home to Vote-from-Home

The COVID-19 pandemic left behind many enduring legacies, with remote work, commonly known as Work-From-Home (WFH) being one of its more enduring ones. Back then, workplaces witnessed a remarkable revamp in routines, schedules and practices. Weekly office meetings shifted from conference rooms to living rooms via virtual meeting apps. Home desks assumed the role of office cabins, complete with the added benefit of flexible working hours in many instances.

11 views

Read More »

Stay Connected

Follow and Subscribe

Join Our Newsletter
And get notified everytime we publish new content.

© 2022 CASSTT ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Developed By Team CASSTT

Contact CASS

CASS (Centre for Aerospace & Security Studies), Old Airport Road, Islamabad
+92 51 5405011
cass.thinkers@casstt.com
career@casstt.com

All views and opinions expressed or implied are those of the authors/speakers/internal and external scholars and should not be construed as carrying the official sanction of CASS.