PTI’s election triumph stresses the importance of the Internet and in particular, social media. It can be said that PTI was discretely successful in utilising social media as a tool to spread its message to the youth. Moreover their campaign flourished across social media early in the election season. Imran Khan’s cricket past has also helped garner massive interest from the youth, who were actively participating in his campaign through social media. The same youth led his campaign on social media and advertised his manifesto across the world. The dilemma is while a party propels to power ahead by effectively utilizing the internet and latest technology, these elections marked an inept failure of the Election Commission Pakistan (ECP) to utilize technology on an administrative scale. The software built to replace the conventional Form-45 failed to cope up with the immense traffic that the system received on the election day. The notorious software — Result Transmission Software (RTS) — forwards the constituencies’ results to the base office via an internet-enabled smartphone. ECP had previously tested the system successfully in Karachi and Peshawar before the General Elections 2018. However, using the system in one or two constituencies did not provide an appropriate sample, for the system’s ability to cope with more traffic, subsequently ending in failure.RTS was supposed to replace the conventional method of the manual Form-45 but failed, and the old system had to be restored again. The vicious cycle had to start from the beginning due to an absence of an alternative to the RTS. ECP blatantly refused to accept its incompetence, and instead issued an appalling reply that the elections were the testing grounds for the system to prove if it is successful or not. A lay person might be fooled by such baffling responses but not an IT Expert. Load Testing and Stress Testing are the core components of the Software Development Cycle — a software unable to fulfill both is deemed un-usable. Databases are stressed with dummy data which exceeds the supposed data limit the system is bound to cope so that greater traffic does not overwhelm the system on critical situations. Alas, the same could not be said for RTS. Election day exposed the bitter reality of our technological sectors, where along with being unable to provide stable internet connections to government institutions; we could not even facilitate a celebrated democratic process with the required technical toolsElection day exposed the bitter reality of our technological sectors, where along with being unable to provide stable internet connections to government institutions; we could not even facilitate a celebrated democratic process with the required technical tools. Pakistan with China has recently launched the country’s first 800-kilometer land-laden fiber optics cable under CPEC, which will connect Pakistan with the rest of the world. The project with a cost exceeding $44 million will connect the country from Rawalpindi to the Khunejrab Pass. Earlier, links to all fiber optics in Pakistan were under-sea. It is good news because the ground route is considered more secure than the sea. The reason to lay ground cables is that they are exposed to less damage than the cables undersea — especially in war-situations.In Pakistan, the internet is still considered a luxury rather than a necessity with prices exceeding the global average, and sub-standard speeds. The quality of internet is neither good nor reliable with intermittent disconnections being a regular occurrence. Although the internet constantly disconnecting was a formidable reason for the failure of RTS, the unavailability of trained staff which could operate RTS was another hindrance. Had the Government at least provided the staff with information and training regarding RTS, it might have worked. The government of Muslim League (N) can be deemed a Pro-IT one. For example, the ‘E-Rozgar Scheme’, National Incubation Center (NIC), Digitisation of Land Records and similar IT-related projects that have revolutionized the IT sector of Pakistan. However, the projects might have inched more success if a stable internet connection was provided. The sporadic disturbances in internet connectivity have hampered the outcome severely at many crucial events. We should understand that the internet is the backbone of any plans related to the future of IT in Pakistan. The RTS failure has also taught us that better Internet is a necessity which cannot be ignored any more especially if we are to keep at pace with the world. The livelihood of many businesses and individuals, especially those who work online, depends on a stable internet connection. Continuous disruption of the internet hampers productivity while incurring the losses of millions of rupees, and an uncertain future.I especially hope that the Pakistani youth, who have gained worldwide fame for being freelancing IT experts, are provided internet speed at par with the global average. A 100 Mbps connection should not cost more than PKR 3000. ‘Solopreneurship’ and Freelancing are excellent ways through which the Government can accommodate the fast growing employment seeking population of Pakistan, especially the youth. It also provides a steady form of remittances to the country.The writer is a freelance columnistPublished in Daily Times, August 13th 2018.