NADRA and Misplaced Excitements

NADRA has been doing a good job. I realized this when I got CNIC (Computerized National Identity Cards) made for my entire family in a decent environment in almost a matter of few hours and got them issued after the promised time without any issue – except for the snapshot that always come up funny.

To a large extent, it is widely reported, NADRA has done its initial bit of assignment – digitizing large portions of the national demographic records (so far, 82 million citizens had been registered). The massive amount of hardware, software and humanware that NADRA has accumulated for quickly achieving the required results are now posing a justification challenge. The 11,000 staff, 400 National and 5 International Offices need to have a reason to continue getting a paycheck at the month end!
And this is how they are planning a justification case (source: Dawn of Sept 27, 2006):

“Although the main business of Nadra is related to issuance of NICs and machine readable passports, the strengths of its professionals can be used for commercial projects,” he [PM Shaukat Aziz] said while urging Nadra to make partnerships with other companies and groups for export of technology-based products.

It is already been tipped off that NADRA would soon be providing ‘financial transaction services’ to banks in Pakistan.

NADRA Technologies, as the project is being passionately called has a number of potential ‘fault lines’:

  • Mixing data that belongs to Government and the one that belongs to businesses is a wrong idea in the first place. Yes, I know physical mix-ups will be prevented by such and such space-aged technology but still, its the people who ultimately control, manage (and mismanage!) machines.
  • Government projects and facilities are designed to be not-to-profit for good reasons. Unless NADRA is Google (which we all know it is NOT), challenging this conventional wisdom can only be considered misplaced excitement.

So next time you see your CNIC details posted at a hacker group’s website, you know you’ve been forewarned!

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Keep Talking

A number of readers of this blog have contributed useful and insightful comments on a variety of topics. The two-way modern Internet (aka Web 2.0) is a breakaway from the TV-like model of the old web. User interaction is key to the overall value enhancement of any Internet resource.

Thank you to all those who have commented on the posts of this blog. Go ahead and keep talking!

Slackworld Resumes with Fifth Issue

After a lapse of almost a year, Ayaz Ahmed Khan is back with the fifth issue of Slackworld. Ayaz, who reportedly lives and breathes in Karachi, co-edits this Slackware focused on-line magazine with Mikhail Zotov. Slackware is one of the earliest distribution of Linux and still enjoys a large, active following.

Although user contributions from Pakistan to on-line Linux publications have historically been there, an editorial level contribution to such a project is rare and hence very welcome.

Slackworld is available under an OPL styled license.


Posted in foss. 2 Comments »

DIDX Gets Internet Telephony Excellence Award for 2006

DIDX – DID Exchange from Super Technologies- with Rehan Ahmed Allahwala from Karachi (yes he travels a lot but is based in Karachi) as one of its main drivers bags one of the forty three companies that received the Internet Telephony Excellence Award for 2006. The award is organized by TMC, a galaxy of communication related print and on-line publications.

Other companies that bagged the award included Alcatel, Inter-Tel, Inc., Juniper Networks, Netcentrex, Overture Networks, Samsung, Toshiba and Verizon.

Super Technologies have managed to remain ahead of the technological curve specially when compared to local companies. As early as in 1995, the company that was later to become Super Technologies was offering Faxaway services (international fax over email) to the local market. At that time, international calls cost you an arm and a leg and email was still a novelty. From Faxaway to DIDX, the company rolled as many services as the number of alphabets in English. Some of which that I can remember off the hand include Internet telephone line where the users used to get a US number for their soft or hard IP phones, call center solutions, IP PBX etc.

DIDX works on the novel concepts of useless-for-me-but-gem-for-others concept of sharing and exchanging DID (Direct Inward Dialing) numbers between Telecos of the world. Each Telco that operates anywhere in the world has access or ownership of the local E.164 telephone numbers. Using DIDX services, and the magic of VoIP protocols, Telcos can offer their cheap DID resources to others and gain DID resources on other networks for their customers use.

DIDX assumes cheap, resilient Internet available everywhere where its services are used – a situation that cannot be taken for granted in contemporary regulatory environment of Pakistan. However, despite the fact, DIDX is picking up in Pakistan. A number of Telcos are opting for DIDX services and offering a myriad of telephone numbers atop their local loop services in Pakistan.

Manager Network Operations, Karachi

Worldcall has opening for a lead of Network Operations, based in Karachi:

Experienced team leader for managing Network Operations. Motivation, maturity and ability to work independently is absolutely required. Solid hands-on experience in Operating Systems and Internet Servers, Layer 2 and Layer 3 devices needed.. Exposure to CMTS is a big plus. Must be able to lead a team of engineers and evolve the department. Graduate engineers preferred. This position is based in

Apply via email to zambeel[at]gmail.com

This blog occasionally publishes job announcements relevant to the Pakistani Telecom sector when the same could be verified via a personal web of trust. Contact me at tariq.mustafa[at]gmail.com if you need to put your piece here.

Posted in cable, jobs. 1 Comment »

Meetup at PTA on Bandwidth Charges Tomorrow

PTA is holding a meeting with stakeholders on the topic of Bandwidth Charges Reduction tomorrow evening at its Head Quarters in Islamabad.

Input from the industry on this issue is now available from the PTA site (here).

Creditcheck is Hiring

Creditcheck has a job announcement to make:

Creditcheck is looking for an experienced IT manager to look after the IT infrastructure comprising of a mix of Microsoft Windows, Unix and Internetworking facilities. If you have been in the industry for 5 years or more and are as good in people skills as in packets and paging stuff, you can propose yourself. Monthly remunerations can touch six figures in Pak Rupees for candidates who can prove themselves.

Apply via email to zambeel[at]gmail.com

This blog occasionally publishes job announcements relevant to the Pakistani Telecom sector when the same could be verified via a personal web of trust. Contact me at tariq.mustafa[at]gmail.com if you need to put your piece here.

Additional Free Info from yours truly: Creditcheck (no homepage for now) is a new financial sector start-up in Pakistan. The organization will work closely with the government, banks and other financial institutes to provide credit checking facilities to the businesses to help them better understand their credit operations risks. This is essentially a e-shop and as such they are out to build a good IT team to deliver the results.