It was back in 2001 when I was in Germany’s prestigious Tubingen University where I met, among other nationals, a large number of Indian students who were also employed as Computer Experts by German companies. Why didn’t they hire people from Pakistan? The answer was simple that the Indians had started acquiring know-how much before the Pakistanis. None of the asylum seekers were Indians, but of course people from Sikh community who had been facing discrimination at the hands of Indians back home had taken asylum in Germany. Their confidence level spoke of the Indian students’ pride and performance alike. Credit goes to the Indian policymakers for introducing Cyber Policy and entering the 21st Century computer age with a national objective in mind.
India has now computerized almost all its departments, especially those related to security and war. It introduced Cyber Crime Policy that is being followed by its intelligence agencies for surveillance, counterintelligence etc. The reports of Edward Snowden’s secret visit to India nearly three years before where he spent days taking courses in computer and ethical hacking and programming at a local professional school, where he learned advance techniques for breaking into computer systems and exploiting flaws in software should not come as a big surprise. Snowden also inquired about methods to reverse-engineer the world's most popular kits for committing widespread online crime. This shows how India has advanced in this field.
Unlike them, we in Pakistan are hitherto trying to familiarize ourselves with laptops and other electronic gadgets. This ineligibility and lack of interest on our part has made us prone to cyber attacks, media onslaughts and internet intrusions. Over a decade before, the US had installed a Major-General as the head of Cyber Warfare branch of its army, followed by India. Pakistan army seems to have not followed the course as yet, which is a serious cause of concern. Our armed forces need to be upgraded, modernized, sophisticated and well equipped to cope with the emerging challenges.
Acquiring latest technology and its know-how is a must. Although I do not underestimate our people in the IT field, as our many organizations and individuals have excelled in this field and have made wonderful accomplishments, yet there is a great scope to enhance this knowledge and expand it to all areas of national mainstream. The cyber security domain is limited yet watertight. It has to expand. I am afraid most of our officers at the top both in civil and military ranks are not fully familiar with cyber knowledge, therefore are less responsive to its significance and sensitivity.
Professor Alya Alvi,
Rawalpindi, January 16.