While Twitter and Facebook have expressed their inability to establish offices in Pakistan in near future, the world’s largest search engine and video-sharing platform Google is set to open a liaison office in Pakistan.
IT and Telecom Minister Syed Aminul Haque on Friday announced the global giant has already registered itself as a company in Pakistan.
“A delegation of Google is scheduled to come to Pakistan early next week from Singapore and the company will likely announce the establishment of a functional office here,” Mr Haque told Dawn.
He disclosed that TikTok has also agreed to establish a liaison office in Pakistan.
However, Google has already taken a lead in this regard and the company has already been registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP), Karachi registry.
Registration is the first step towards the establishment of the office, which is one of the requirements under the Removal and Blocking of Unlawful Online Content (Procedure, Oversight and Safeguards) Rules 2021.
The social media platforms will have to abide by the laws and the norms of Pakistan after getting registered and opening offices.
The rules also require the social media platforms to have their “servers” in Pakistan to ensure that the data was secure. Currently, the data of all the platforms are stored outside the country.
The minister has recently expressed confidence that more social media platforms will establish their offices in Pakistan, but industry sources said that Twitter and Meta have been reluctant so far.
A senior executive of one of the telecom companies in the country said that both Twitter and Meta were undergoing some radical structural changes, and they have laid off a large number of employees in the region and globally too.
“The members of negotiating teams for Pakistan in Meta, representing Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp have been changed, therefore no headway is expected in discussions with Meta and Twitter,” the executive said.
On the other hand, sources in the telecom industry said that despite assurances by the IT ministry regarding a business-friendly environment, the inconsistent policies have led to mistrust among the companies and they were hesitant to establish offices in Pakistan.
Meanwhile, foreign minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari on Friday visited the Asia Pacific headquarters of Meta (Facebook), Singapore to launch the “Stars Programme” for monetisation in Pakistan.
The programme will contribute to the capacity building of young entrepreneurs for Pakistan’s growing number of Meta content developers.