Last week, the Prime Minister launched an e-government app for the residents of the capital. The application will include features such as e-police, emergency service, utility bill payment, and also provide the opportunity to deal with issues of license and registration of citizens, vehicles and arms online. An initiative like this helps increase the approachability of the government, and by extension, service delivery. It also works towards countering the digital divide that persists within society by providing access to technological routes for all. With the consistent rise in the use of smartphones in Pakistan, the government has made its services more accessible, which must be lauded.

In 2020, many developed countries have made the shift to provide citizens the opportunity to conduct their tasks related to the government online. Most developing countries are still lagging in this regard, which is why the Prime Minister’s decision to launch this app makes it clear that the government intends to make strides in service-delivery; those that are at par with the best governance systems in the world.

The objective now should be to continue testing this app for bug fixes and make improvements where necessary. Users on the app will only increase if it functions smoothly. Beyond this, rolling it out to other parts of the country should also be something that the government looks into, once the testing stage is complete. Digitisation of the government works best when all areas of the country are included within its ambit.

The constant readjustments of local governments within the country have made experts wonder how Pakistan can focus on service delivery on the micro-scale – this app may just be the answer we have all been looking for. Devolving powers to specific districts in areas such as waste management, road service and repair, beautification and the provision of public goods such as lampposts can all be truly handed out to districts if the data from the app and is used efficiently. What resources are needed where can also become much clearer.

In short, the potential of launching this mobile application and the ramifications it might have with future citizen-state interactions are endless; it is up to the government to make it effective.