E-government in Gilgit-Baltistan 

Shujaat Ali

Electronic government (E-government), aka e-gov, internet government, digital government, online government, connected government, defines  digital, web-based, interactions between a citizen and their government (C2G), between governments and government agencies (G2G), between government and citizens (G2C), between government and employees (G2E), and between government and businesses/commerce (G2B). Three common words that resemble with e-government are email (electronic mail), e-paper (electronic newspaper) and e-commerce. You are well-versed with them and they will for sure qualify the meaning of e-government.

We are living in cyber age where Information and Communication Technology (ICT) has become an integral part of our daily life. Gone are the days when we used to buy and read hard/printed copy of newspapers with full interest and devotion. E-paper or electronic version of every newspaper is almost available online today that can easily be accessed by just a single click or touch for free. The readership or circulation of printed newspapers in GB is expected to decrease overtime due to digitalization of newspapers. Today the readership is intact because many areas still have no access to landline and mobile internet facility. Majority of local newspapers of Gilgit-Baltistan are in Urdu and learning Urdu is becoming a tough choice for young learners. Hence many students feel difficulty in learning Urdu at initial stages. There is a problem of choice between mother language and national language in the presence of English as a vibrant medium of communication. Today after mother language many people choose English as second language.

There is a close bond between access to information and transparency. The more access to information ensures the more transparency. Institutional reforms through information dissemination and positive constructive feedback can play pivotal role in institutional capacity building. It has been observed, the social media accounts of Chief Minister and Governor Gilgit-Baltistan are often kept up-to-date by their respective admins with updates on community liaison, official meetings, press releases and newspaper clippings. On the other hand the official website of government of GB and social media page is not kept up-to-date and is updated intermittently. The role of Information Department, IT Department and Press Information Department (PID) has increased a lot in todays’ world. They need to play proactive role through digital interaction among all components of e-government as stated in the first paragraph. Right to Information (RTI) bill is the essence of inter-government public relations. The Public Relationship Officers need to keep close liaison between government functionaries and public. Routine correspondence, tenders, job advertisements, circulars, notices, notifications and other public interest documents can easily be circulated online. The storage, retrieval and dissemination of online information are much easier as compared to hardcopy documents like printed copy of newspapers, letters, and others. The official portal of Government of GB and social media pages of dignitaries need identical attention. It is expected the Information Department, Government of GB will pay attention toward it by keeping the official websites up-to-date. The official website of Government of Gilgit-Baltistan should be bilingual (English and Urdu) same like Pamir Times for wider public interest and reading.

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