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The government has given the go-ahead to the Information Technology and Telecommunication Division that is going to sign a strategic cooperation framework with the Chinese IT ministry for the promotion and advancement of information and communication technology (ICT).

Sources told The Express Tribune that in order to turn true the vision of Prime Minister Imran Khan for ICT progress, the federal IT minister in a meeting with the Chinese ambassador requested for looking into avenues of human capital development, research and innovation for meeting the evolving demand from domestic and regional markets.

The minister said the IT ministry had made necessary efforts and developed a strategic cooperation framework, which was shared with the Chinese envoy through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Afterwards, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs shared a draft memorandum of understanding (MoU) received from the Chinese embassy and said Beijing had proposed to sign the document. Views were also sought on the proposed MoU from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Law and Justice. The former had no objection to the inking of the MoU whereas the latter vetted the draft from the legal point of view.

The Cabinet Division revealed in a recent meeting that a relevant summary had been sent to 28 federal ministers for recording their opinion and subsequent return to the Cabinet Division. Seventeen members of the cabinet endorsed the proposal of the IT Division, replies from nine were not received within the stipulated time whereas two ministers - the communications minister and the planning, development and special initiatives minister - made the following observations:

Communication Minister Murad Saeed said the matter should be taken up in the cabinet whereas Planning Minister Asad Umar pointed out that it was an important proposal but required consultation did not seem to have been carried out by the sponsoring ministry. A summary in that regard may be discussed in a cabinet meeting, Umar said. The summary was subsequently sent for approval to the prime minister, who gave directives for presenting the case to the cabinet.

The IT Division placed the summary titled “Memorandum of Understanding between the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology of China and the Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication of Pakistan for Cooperation in Information and Communications Technology” before the cabinet for discussion and its approval.

During deliberations, Asad Umar asked about the reasons for bypassing the joint working group and the Joint Cooperation Committee (JCC) of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). It was clarified that apart from cooperation with Beijing under CPEC project, ministries were engaging with their Chinese counterparts separately as well.

The signing of a G2G MoU was part of efforts to ramp up cooperation in the field of ICT, the cabinet was told. The cabinet reviewed and approved the summary.