The recent smog crisis affecting Lahore and various cities, the Punjab government implemented a smart lockdown in Lahore. However, the Caretaker Government of Punjab has now exempted the Information Technology (IT) sector from the anti-smog smart lockdown, acknowledging its vital role in the province. This decision comes in response to pleas from industry representatives and organizations like the Pakistan Software Houses Association for IT and ITES (P@SHA), who raised concerns about the adverse impact of business closures on the IT sector during the ongoing smog crisis.
IT Sector Gets a Breath of Fresh Air During Smog Crisis
The Punjab government’s notification, issued to address the smog-related challenges, specifically highlights the importance of the IT sector. Under this new directive, various IT-related businesses, including e-commerce, international IT centers, call centers, software houses, and telecom services, have been categorized as essential services and are exempted from the lockdown order.
The exemption list now includes a diverse range of businesses and services, such as pharmacies, medical facilities, petrol pumps, tandoors, bakeries, and more, emphasizing the government’s commitment to maintaining essential services even during challenging times.
P@SHA’s Advocacy Yields Positive Results for IT Industry
The Pakistan Software Houses Association for IT and ITES (P@SHA) played a pivotal role in advocating for the IT sector’s exemption from the lockdown order. In a letter addressed to the caretaker Chief Minister of Punjab, P@SHA Chairman Muhammad Zohaib Khan expressed the sector’s concerns and outlined the potential detrimental consequences of a shutdown on IT exports, Pakistan’s global reputation, and customer trust.
Muhammad Zohaib Khan’s letter highlighted three significant reasons why the provincial government’s decision to impose “restricted movement” in the IT sector was harmful.
Disruption to IT Exports
The restriction on movement within the IT sector, which serves as a primary hub for IT exports, would disrupt operations, potentially leading to missed international client deadlines, financial losses, and contractual penalties.
Damage to Brand Pakistan
Interruptions in IT services would tarnish Pakistan’s international image as a reliable IT service provider. Such damage to reputation can have long-lasting consequences that are challenging to rectify.
- Global clients rely on the promise of continuity and reliability from IT service providers. An unforeseen shutdown of IT services could erode customer trust, causing clients to seek services from other countries, resulting in short-term losses and potentially deterring foreign IT investments in the long run.
Following P@SHA’s persuasive advocacy and industry concerns, the provincial government promptly revised its order to exempt IT exporters, call centers, and related businesses from the lockdown. In doing so, it allows IT companies to continue their operations under strict health safety protocols, similar to their practices during the pandemic.
The Govt of Punjab’s decision to exempt the IT sector from the anti-smog lockdown order reflects the sector’s vital role in the province and its contribution to the national economy. This move not only safeguards IT businesses but also preserves Pakistan’s image as a dependable IT service provider on the global stage.