STAFF REPORT ISB: Higher Education Commission (HEC) has announced the funding of 60 technology companies from universities in order to address the immediate needs of IT industry in Pakistan.

HEC Chairman Prof. Dr. Mukhtar Ahmed revealed this funding at a recently organized event in Islamabad as part of the Software Freedom Day (SFD) celebrations across the country.

Purpose of this celebration was to educate the worldwide public about the benefits of using high quality Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) in education, in government, at home, and in business.

Every year SFD events are organized globally in September to celebrate the FOSS.

The SFD was organized by the Open Source Foundation of Pakistan (OSFP) and hosted by HEC.

The non-profit organization Software Freedom International coordinates SFD at a global level, providing support, giveaways and a point of collaboration, but volunteer teams around the world organize the local SFD events to impact their own communities.

The HEC chairman emphasized that each company has to achieve a legal status with faculty and student involvement for funding.

President of Pakistan Institute of Entrepreneurship (PIE), Tahir Mahmood Chaudhary, appreciated the announcement by the HEC chief and offered his full support for new startups of all the attendees.

Prof. Dr. Mukhtar acknowledged the importance and need of Open Source software development not only to cut the cost but to bring in the desired freedom of alteration on, as and when required basis.

He further said that a huge proportionate of industry has already adopted the Open Source software instead of proprietary ones.

Managing Director Pakistan Software Export Board, Asim Husain, mentioned the role of PSEB in promoting the Open Source in Pakistan saying he will provide full support to OSFP in future to train more IT professionals to use Open Source software in Pakistan.

The event mastered by Sohaib Saleem from Riphah Institute of Systems Engineering (RISE) was all lined up with key note speeches addressing anti-piracy and freedom of creation from top academicians and industry professionals representing NADRA, NayaTel, NADRA NTL, PSEB, CASE, CARE, RISE and DHA Suffa University Karachi.

In his keynote address, Salim M. Rafik, Director General NADRA, said that if the world, even our neighboring countries, is producing useful applications in the form of Android or iOS Apps through Open Source why cant we do it?

“We should use it to create applications for women and children to bring them in the bigger equation of economic stability and eventual self-sustainability,” he said.

CEO Nayatel, Wahaj Ul Siraj, said that lack of education and its implementation is the real problem we are facing these days. “We need to be aware as a nation about the alternatives present especially in the form of Open Source platform hence avoiding the piracy issue as well,” he asserted.

Dr. Athar Mehboob from Suffa University was of the view that Open Source platform can be used to develop student management to financial best performing application with equal or even best features than the typical proprietary software with hefty price tags.

Keynote speeches were followed by an interactive panel discussion with chairman P@SHA, President Computer Society of Pakistan and PIE, Dean MCS, FAST-NU Associate Prof. and HEC Director General IT as panelists duly moderated by Babar Zahoor, founder of Open Source Foundation of OSFP.

The OSFP claims that by providing a platform to the private and public sector organizations and universities, it can help them save billions of rupees.

Its founding principles has been set as “using and developing the local human resources for introducing IT based solutions for local markets, home users and industry”.

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