E-commerce has gained enough importance across the globe that the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and some 75 countries have felt the need to sit together to make rules to regulate trade through e-commerce. However, what is shocking is that Pakistan has decided not to attend the WTO e-commerce talks. The government has not explained the folly it is going to make while not becoming part to negotiations. The only words that a senior official said were lamenting the government’s decision. There is no denying to the fact that e-commerce will probably make all other modes of commerce and trading outdated soon. Is there not a single person in the government that can convince the authorities not to let the opportunity go? This is not the first time that Pakistan has shown laxity in the event of such importance. And this laxity shows nothing but the incompetence of the authorities and tells us that our leaders and policymakers have lost touch of the reality. While others will be negotiating the rules for e-commerce and trying their level best to protect their interests, Pakistan will be just watching the talks.

The silence of advisor to the government on commerce Razak Dawood on the matter is mind-boggling. Him being someone who knows the significance of e-business and better than many others is yet to visit WTO. His position demands from him to convince the government to become a party to WTO’s meeting in this regard. It is really unfortunate that Pakistan has frequently missed important events; the refusal to sit in the talks with other countries is the latest. The importance of e-commerce cannot be ignored, as it has become a separate industry on its own. The estimates by the commerce ministry suggest that it can cross $1 billion by 2020. $ 1 billion is not a small amount. It can swell further if the state recognises the fact that e-commerce will be the dominant form of conducting business in the near future. Indeed, e-commerce is growing at a rapid pace. And so are the problems it creates. Pakistan will miss the opportunity by not attending the WTO meeting that is aiming to deliberate on the mechanism to regulate the phenomenon. The reluctance to join the conference will result in a lack of understanding and devising policies in line with the guidelines of WTO for e-businesses. In short, there is no reasonable ground for the government not to attend the meeting.