Prime Minister Shehbaz stirred anticipation with a tweet featuring an intriguing image of a laptop and a bag, accompanied by the exclamation, “Ek waari fir” (one more time). The Associated Press of Pakistan reported that the long-awaited ceremony for laptop distribution is scheduled to take place on Friday, creating a buzz of excitement.
The laptop scheme holds immense significance as the flagship project of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), which was initially spearheaded by PM Shehbaz during his tenure as the chief minister of Punjab. Recognizing the transformative power of technology in empowering the youth, PM Shehbaz emphasized the importance of providing laptops to the younger generation, stating, “I am giving laptops to the youth, not Kalashnikov [rifle].” This statement, made during the launching ceremony of the PM’s Youth Loan Program in February of this year, aimed to remind critics that these devices served as crucial educational tools during the challenging times of the coronavirus pandemic.
Aligned with the commitment to empower students and bridge the digital divide, the government recently announced the distribution of a minimum of 100,000 laptops to students enrolled in public-sector higher education institutions as part of the third phase of the PM’s Laptop Scheme. This initiative, introduced by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif after assuming office in 2013, encompasses a comprehensive development package worth Rs20 billion aimed at uplifting the country’s youth. The package comprises six projects, with the laptop scheme as a prominent component.
The primary objective of this initiative is to equip the country’s youth with the necessary tools and resources to thrive in a rapidly evolving economic landscape driven by technology. Shaza Fatima Khawaja, the Special Assistant to the PM on Youth Affairs, highlighted the significance of the project on December 14, 2022. She emphasized that it aimed to create an enabling environment for Pakistani youth to compete globally and ensure they are on par with their counterparts worldwide.
To ensure inclusivity and promote gender equality, the laptop distribution program incorporates specific measures. Fifty percent of the laptops will be allocated to women, recognizing the importance of empowering female students and encouraging their active participation in education and technology. Additionally, the scheme also includes transgender individuals as beneficiaries, taking into account their unique needs. Furthermore, to address regional disparities, the Balochistan quota for laptop distribution has been doubled, ensuring greater access and opportunities for students from the province.