by Ambassador Shamshad Ahmad, Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the
at 23rd Session of the Committee of Information
30 April, 2001
we prepare to mark the World Press Freedom Day on May 3, let me begin by
paying tribute to all those media persons who have lost their lives in the
line of duty. The World Press Freedom Day is certainly the right occasion to
acknowledge the achievements of such individuals.
2. My delegation joins the Committee in extending a warm welcome to
Armenia and Libyan Arab Jamahiriya as the new members of the Committee. We hope that the admission of new members will bring fresh ideas to the
work of this Committee.
3. I would also like to associate myself with the statement made by the
Islamic Republic of Iran on behalf of Group of 77 and China.
4. We have noted various reports submitted by the Secretary General on
different aspects of the work of the Committee on Information. I am certain
that the Committee, during its deliberations, will reflect on these reports
with a view to promoting the objectives set out by the General Assembly in the
field of public information and communication as a means to strengthen peace
and international understanding.
5. Modern information technology is the key to progress and prosperity.
The advancement in information technology has taken place at an unprecedented
pace radically transforming all areas of human activity.
6. Though the flow of information has become a global phenomenon
transcending state boundaries, application of information technology still
remains restrictive. While the developed countries are coming closer by
mutually sharing their technologies in various fields, the developing world
lags behind in benefitting from the ongoing information and technology
revolution. It is true that today millions of people can access the
information highway, but the fact remains that member states of this august
body are at completely varying levels of development in terms of their access
to information and communication. This
imbalance in the global information and technology revolution needs to be
corrected so that its benefits are shared on a more just and equitable basis
7. Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights spells out that
everyone has the right to ďseek, receive and impart information and ideas
through any media and regardless of frontiers.Ē The Millennium Declaration
also proclaimed the right of universal access to Information and Communication
8. The Secretary Generalís Millennium Assemblyís report had very
timely taken a close look at this digital divide. I quote what the Secretary General said in his report :ďAt present a
yawning digital divide still exists in the world. There are more computers in United States than in the rest of the world
combined. There are as many telephones in Tokyo as in all of Africa.Ē
9. In his report, the Secretary General also noted that the United Nations
had not fully tapped the potential of the Information Revolution. Inadequate
information technology infrastructure, lack of training and change-resistance
culture were mentioned as main impediments in this regard. We fully agree with
the Secretary Generalís assessment that there is a need to update and
upgrade the UNís internal information technology capacity to make the entire
UN system fully equipped and better integrated to provide the people with
information and data needed by them. This objective could only be achieved
through efficient, qualified and experienced leadership, which provides
professional guidance and understands the dynamics of the new revolution.
10. We welcome Secretary Generalís initiative called United Nations
Information Technology Service (UNITeS) for training groups of people in
developing countries to apprise them of the uses and opportunities in the
field of information technology. We also welcome the establishment of an ICT
Task Force in the UN. We hope that DPI would closely coordinate with the ICT
Task Force not only to develop the UN capacity in the field of information
technology but also to help bridge the digital divide.
11. We have also noted with interest DPIís electronic mail-based news
alert service which is expected to be launched before the next General
Assembly session. The service, which will be organized both on regional and
thematic lines, is a welcome initiative, though extra care needs to be taken
to ensure that news breaking and news alert are accurate and free of any bias.
12. The Secretary Generalís goal to have a universal and transparent
information network would certainly be instrumental in addressing numerous
problems and difficulties faced by the international community, including
under-development, poverty and deprivation.
13. Pakistan attaches great importance to the work being done by the UN in
the areas of information and communication. We also appreciate the work of the
UN Information Centers (UNIC) in
various countries. We believe that the United Nations Information Centers
should serve as UN window to the outside world by disseminating knowledge and
information on global affairs. However, we believe that an emphasis is needed
on introducing technological innovations into the working of UNICs.
14. The close cooperation between the UNICís officials and the host
government is very essential. DPI should ensure that its representatives
operate in close harmony with the host country officials. Professionally
efficient and impartial personnel and prudent management of existing resources
would certainly improve the functioning of these centers.
15. In Pakistan we fully realize the importance of information technology
and have taken concrete measures for the development of information technology
in the country. The resource allocation in this area has been increased
manifold during the last one and a half year. The main focus of this drive is
on building Pakistanís technological prowess in the 21st century
by leap frogging into new markets, developing a larger pool of human resource
for reverse brain-drain, integrating the software technological infrastructure
into modern technological base, promoting e-commerce, and strengthening the
16. Cognizant of the fact that the use of information technology has to be
promoted all over the country, the Government of Pakistan has taken a number
of steps to narrow the digital divide in the country. Provision of universal
and affordable access to Internet is the top priority in this respect and
already a sizeable portion of our population has acquired access to Internet
facility. Thousands of Internet kiosks are also being installed in post
offices, petrol pumps, railway stations, hotels and airports. The cost of
bandwidth for the Internet connectivity has been reduced to a level where it
is affordable by the common man.
17. In line with the Governmentís policy on promoting close cooperation
amongst the countries of the South in the field of information technology, the
Chief Executive of Pakistan, at the Havana South Summit last year announced to
establish a South Institute of Information Technology in Pakistan. The process
for the establishment of the Institute has already started.
18. In todayís world of fierce competition, information is the life line
for crucial decision making and strategic planning, not only for governments
but also for private and corporate sectors. As this process is gradually gaining speed, the competitive edge of
nations is now gauged by their effectiveness in information processing. It will be a pity if the developing countries are made to lag behind
because of their lack of access to information or advanced means for obtaining
19. The United Nations must come forward to meet the needs of the
developing countries and to ensure that the benefits of the information
technology are enjoyed equally by the entire humanity. The formidable
challenge before the UN is to bridge the ever increasing digital divide and to
link the have-nots of the world to the information connectivity highway. If
the UN could help an individual from a poor country acquire his or her first
newspaper, first television or first computer on his journey on this
information highway, then it would deem to have succeeded in promoting the universal access to information technology.
thank you Mr. Chairman.