Pakistani Software Developers: Wake Up and Read This!

Without continual growth and progress, words such as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning. – Benjamin Franklin

Ali, the Software Developer

This is a story about Ali.

Ali is 45-years old, has 20 years of experience and has been working at the same software house for the past 10 years. Like many of us, he is a computer science graduate and works as a developer. Considering his experience and age, the people around him often ask why he’s still just a programmer.

For Ali, the question does not carry any weight anymore. He arrives at the office around 9:00 am. After his arrival he does two things. One, he checks emails and second, he checks what tickets have been assigned to him that day. While sipping his tea, he browses Facebook, chuckles at funny pictures and videos and finally starts work.

Around 1:00 pm, he goes for prayers and lunch break and returns back to his seat at 2:00 pm. At 5:30 pm in the evening, he shuts down his computer, locks his drawers and leaves.

This is his daily routine. There has been no change in this for the past 5 years.

In a judgmental capacity, we don’t want to be like Ali right? Instead, we might just feel a little repulsed wouldn’t we?

We think that being an IT graduate, he should have been a project manager by now. He should have been earning double his measly 60k. While passing down the cubicles, people often stare at him with thinly veiled disgust. With his out of shape body, older-than-his-age looks, and mannerisms that have grown way too old, even if we aren’t repulsed, we surely don’t want to be him.

The Choice and Opportunities

Let me tell you something folks, you shouldn’t be like Ali. For him, there was always a choice but he did not pay attention. That is why he ended up where he is now.

Being a computer professional is all good but there are literally dozens of things you could specialize in. Just because you were taught a specific language does not mean you have to work on it professionally. Whether it’s Software Development, Business Analysis, Quality Assurance, Project Coordination, Networks, Security, Support, Implementation or Product Marketing, your education equips you to take on any of these.

But academia can direct you to a certain extent. Passionate teachers and mentors can help identify your field of interest in line with your education and personality, but what you wish to become will be yours and your choice alone. The most important thing is to find something you are truly passionate about and not get caged in by what you were taught or what you are expected to do.

Our Failure of Utilizing Our Human Resource Capital

Pakistan produces 15,000 IT graduates per year whereas local market demand is around 11,000 per annum although it’s rising. Only a handful of these professionals will excel in their careers, and even less will make a name in the international market. The rest will be on survival mode or leave the country.

Why is that? Why is it that with this awesome number of human resources, we are not able to boost the industry like our neighboring countries? Or are we all like Ali, unable to have faith in our own abilities, choosing instead to cruise through life seemingly on autopilot?

Suggestions for Pakistani Software Developers

Here are some areas which are lagging behind and have created huge gaps for opportunities, and if IT industry can support this with its resources we may have a lift off soon.

  • The Tourism Industry
      • It is needless to say that how rich Pakistan is in terms of natural habitat, but once someone tries to search Pakistan’s tourism industry online, there is a woefully low representation of Pakistan.
  • Land Reforms
      • Admit it. We don’t know how to make use of the land to make it efficient. Even if we do, we do it in populated urbanized areas. We don’t develop the lands that are in suburbs or rural areas. The reason is that no one has ever researched or collected data about it. A few NGOs have worked on it, but with limited access. It’s time Pakistani software folks step in in a big way.
  • Agriculture
      • Pakistan is an agricultural land, and 80% of our economy depends on it. Yet, how many technology startups and people we see regarding this huge arena of opportunity? Do the math yourself. Tech can help.
  • Sub Urban Outreach
      • Not everyone understands English and only 8% of Pakistan speaks Urdu. How many websites and applications we are developing that can be understood by the rest of the Pakistan, where the mobile and internet is now accessible to every corner of the country? Did you see the missing opportunity here?
  • Religion
    • We are also a culturally rich and religious country. Each sect has its own practices and norms. Even the dress code is different. But we fail to see this as an opportunity. Technology can make a huge difference here.

I may have included healthcare and education here as well, but what I have seen in the recent years is that these fields have gathered good amount of attention, but there is still much work to be done here.

It is time Pakistani software developers realize that they are worth more than what they’ve been led to believe. This requires showing initiative, thinking of out-of-the-box solutions for everyday problems that you and I can run over. Problems that, once solved, can make Pakistani lives much easier. It really shouldn’t be a Pakistan where the average individual is still seeking out the right definitions of his career and growth. Its time we put our foot down and stopped the brain drain. Only way to do that? To provide the right incentives for those who dare to dream big.

Its high time we stopped being a disinterested Ali, Nadeem, or Saad. It’s time we made our rightful mark and changed Pakistan’s fortunes for the better.

  • Shortly they will write an article about ALI , switching too often .
    Happiness is not what other judge, may be ALI is more happy then his other fellow .

  • “While passing down the cubicles, people often stare at him with thinly veiled disgust. With his out of shape body, older-than-his-age looks, and mannerisms that have grown way too old, even if we aren’t repulsed, we surely don’t want to be him.”

    Now this borders on ,almost, hate for that guy. Maybe this was something personal, a vendetta for some earlier, personal, conflict. I mean why would anybody feel disgusted about a guy, and later write about it in a public site, who is doing his job. Maybe he is content with his job, what matters more is how he feels about himself and his situation. His life his decisions. He certainly does not need someone’s disgust filled sympathies.

    The moral of the article seems to be feel disgusted with all those who are earning below your total monthly earnings. I certainly did (and do) feel disgust about the way this article targets a person (fictional or not (though I have a hunch this is a real person)).

    • You misunderstood his reference to the software developer here.
      In my opinion Ali is not meant to be a particular person. The writer of this article used Ali as “XYZ” software developer, as he is talking about a particular group of Pakistani Developers who posses the same lifestyle as described in the article.

    • The article kinda goes overboard. I mean, a guy who’s making 60k in Lahore is not really doing that bad. Everyone has different strengths and weaknesses. The important thing is being able to live happily.

  • as a software programmer this “thinking of out-of-the-box solutions for everyday problems” in my experience is what we lack the most. this industry is not taken seriously in pakistan anyway like many others. The only solution is to find the job abroad. In pakistan its by chance that some get to find good organizations to work in.

  • Doesn’t that seem a little out of place – 40 and still programming, is he really working as a programmer or does he have some ulterior motives and is he a secret agent or is it that I sound obsessed with Kulbhushan Yadav syndrome lately..?

  • From where the following fact was obtained?
    “Not everyone understands English and only 8% of Pakistan speaks Urdu.”
    You’ve asked question about the websites & applications for the remaining population, that shows that 92% people cannot speak or understand Urdu, that’s totally a misguided fact & untrue.

  • There is a main problem of our education system they just teach to learn like “ratta” people get degrees just by ratta they forget to understand so there ability to think out of the box doesnt work. Most pakistanis are lakeer k fakir. They just wanna be like jo hai isi ka shukar ada kro and don’t take risk for better

    • There are jobs that are practical for lakeer kay fakeer as well. It is sad that technician careers are not valued here because it is very important for building infrastructure. not for creative fields and software

  • Allah, Ali ko sabar atta farmaye. Amin
    Sab bhai Ali k liye Ek minute ki khamoshi ikhteyar karen
    Ab Vaatt lagayen ?

  • People should realise that the only reason we are not accelerating in IT industry is because of this mentality, the article is full of assumptions and ironies. You can be 50 and still loves what you do even if it meant to do a 9-6 job sincerely. Grow up from this immature mental level, you are harming this industry more than Mr Ali

    • nailed it !
      “one doesn’t need to defend or explain his/her opinion to anyone, its his/her life”

      Surely, we can guide them but can’t publish an article online.

  • Terrible article. The author fails to appreciate that NOT everyone wants to be what he wants them to be, people have circumstances, their own abilities and yes software houses do need people who are steady and ready to do a job for longer than a year stunt. NetSol and other software houses are full of such individuals whoa re in the organization or a long time and yes they remain programmers or developers. NOTHING WRONG WITH THAT

  • According to the official statistics, agriculture contributes about 24 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in Pakistan, not sure how “80% of our economy depends on it”. Similarly, the statement that “only 8% of Pakistan speaks Urdu” is apparently based on some misunderstanding of the role of Urdu as the lingua franca.

  • I have a question for all of you: ummmmm, Why on earth we haven’t developed a single Urdu word processor since 1947? What software houses do then ?

    • Dear, There has been an effort for development of Urdu Editor/WordProcessor called “Urdu Nigar Unicode”. Although this effort was made by individual and not from full fledged software house.

    • I seem to recall reading about an Urdu word processor back in the early 1990s, but I’m not sure if the company that made it was Pakistani or Indian.

      In today’s world, any Unicode editor that supports right-to-left languages should be sufficient. Do we really need one editor for just Urdu?

      • My question is still hanging there, meanwhile enjoy hacked inpage urdu made by Indian company in 1999.
        Note: One can purchase the latest version of inpage (developed by indian company axis-soft?) which has many fonts and features like spell check etc. but I’m not sure if it supports direct copy / paste between corel / photoshop and vice versa.

        • Grow Up, get out of 90’s and live Today when you can write Urdu in any Software even in Photoshop (Middle Eastern Version). I don’t know for what People use Internet ??

          • Oh really? I didn’t know that. Are you a programmer? Do you know you can also write unicode Urdu in Microsoft word? Wait I’m deleting Inpage Urdu… I’ll be right back to you in a moment.

            • I think i said it you can write in any software.
              and there are good unicode Urdu Fonts available free.
              search for Urdu Font server.
              بھائی آپ کہیں بھی لکھ سکتے ہیں کسی ویب سائیٹ کی ضرورت نہیں ۔

              • Brother you’re missing the point, No one in our country even tried to develop a Complete National Language word processor. Why should “They” care about Urdu word processor softwares as it’s none of their concern?

                • You may be missing a thing about Programmers (Not like Ali :-) ) “They” like challenges and it satisfy them to solve a problem Or help some1.
                  so it concerns them.

                  • Now that’s where I agree with you. Skidrow, Razr, reloaded and others can even hack latest inpage urdu software (even though it uses physical dongle device)

  • not a good article. It seems author tries to misguide the youth. Only hard work can lead to success. no shortcut. It should be removed.
    I advise programmers to not to follow this.

    • It’s highly unlikely that someone who graduated in 2006 uses the same tools and languages today at work as they did at their first job. I’d be happy to work with a 40-50 year old developer who learns and experiments with new technologies all the time.

      • Your understanding of stats is incorrect. The charts from the search are about the native languages being spoken in Pakistan. They show that there are only 8% Pakistanis who only understand Urdu instead any other native language, these charts don’t tell you that 48% of the people who speak Punjabi or other native speakers don’t speak or understand Urdu.

        • Agar Arsalan bhai ki understanding sahi bhi ho, tab bhi would you take fact from an image search? That is kind of weird, look at the sites which have those charts, those are more of personal blogs no credible site.

          Jab MS office, windows wagera ki classes lete they way back in 90s tab suna tha ke whatever you see on internet, you are not supposed to believe all.

      • Well, that speaks for the quality of Bing search results.

        Why would you even use Bing?

  • which software house pay Rs.60K salary to a 20 years experienced developer? I know you want to make a point but you don’t need to take help from wrong facts and statements to prove your point.

    Show some respect and then try to give your suggestion to improve.

  • Jis din Adsense ne urdu sites accept krni shuru kr din. Urdu sites b bulk main banny lg jain gi.

  • You should do what you like ! It doesn’t matter if you are 40 or 60 and still programming . It’s your passion.

  • banda halal kama raha hy, kisi ka mohtaj nahi, Kya is pe shukar ada nahi karain gy. Paiso ki hirs kabhi khatum nahi hoti. I left Pakistan not because of underpaid job but because of merit system and justice. My first job on open merit was as Security Analyst in Saudi Aramco (no sifarish) now Alhumdulillah working as Senior N/w and Security Engineer in CMA KSA.

    Thing is, if there’s a proper merit system and not insane job description (CCIE with 5yrs exp, salary 15rs) then most talent will come back to Pakistan.

    Companies should give internship and learning opportunities to fresh graduate, hardly 15% give such opportunity.

    Regarding Ali, you never know what makes him continue his career like this.

    • Hay, first, this world of internet, software development, internet marketing or content writing is piled up of thousands of people like ‘Ali’, It is the World of Geeks.
      And if you google this world ‘Geek’ then this character ‘Ali’ is full-fledged Geek(Anti-Social, Deeper in Professional capacities etc), But real dilemma is that, ‘Our(Pakistanis) attitudes are still on rudimentary levels, For me, Ali is most successful,, I.T world is cruel,selfish and self-centered industry, he is doing.. Shantanu Narayen(Adobe) is rarely goes to meetings but it is taking adobe to new heights, Brad Smith(Intuit) speaks for five minutes in hours long conferences but it is one of the 16 most effective CEOs.. But, we jackass people label people, like Ali was done by morons around him

  • Listen, listen, listen up for second, there is work being done on all those areas that you explicitly mentioned in your article, but biggest pitfall is that,’There is not Trade-deficit in Pakistan, there is Trust-Deficit’.

  • Excellent Article! And for all these critics, you cannot hide from the fact that most of us developers are just working for other countries and only providing services just to get a good pay. Try to focus on the point that we are not participating in developing our own Pakistan with the same approach. We need to develop for Pakistan rather than just develop from Pakistan.

  • Considering the amount of butthurt in the comments, I feel the author is much too correct with his observations xD

  • Wake up Pakistanis , this nation is no less than any, all we need is an proprietor naturing environment to creative , be innovative, research and develop. If your surprised ask how sialkot footballs are of international quality, the key is ‘VALUE YOUR EMPLOYEE AS YOU VALUE YOUR LOVED ONES’ .

  • I must say….That is an excellent article and is focusing on the exact contemporary dilemma of our educated youth…!

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