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Minister for Science and Technology Prof Atta-ur-Rahman has disclosed that the government during the last three weeks has received commitments of Rs12 billion investment in telecommunication and information technology sector.

Talking to journalists on Friday, the minister informed that Motorola, an American concern, has committed to invest Rs9 billion whereas the government also secured commitment of Rs2 billion investment by a British company in both telecom and IT. He said they would establish 10 IT centres at a cost of Rs200 million while Oracle would invest $20 million in the IT sector specially in Sindh.

The minister further said that Cisco had announced to set up 'network academies' in Pakistan. He said the government would further reduce the tariff for the Internet Service Providers (ISP). "It's just the beginning of a greater IT revolution in the country. If we continue our efforts with same spirit we would end up strengthening Pakistan on the world map," he observed.

Earlier, Prof Atta, along with the Basha family, unveiled the plaque of the Umaer Basha Institute of Information Technology at the campus. The sanctioned institute would be an upgraded version of the existing Department of Computer Science of the University of Karachi. Umaer Basha was an outstanding student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and died a tragic cerebral death in 1997.

Speaking at a function in the arts auditorium, Umaer's mother, Dr. Fatima Basha apprised that Umaer Basha Foundation was founded in USA as a philanthropist organisation committed to promote high tech education and training. It will initially provide Rs 10 million for the construction and development of the institute. Total development cost of the institute will be borne jointly by the foundation and the University of Karachi, she added.

Prof. Atta-ur-Rahman saluted the brave mother who had courage to get up and shared her views with the audience. He said Umaer was sure that education was the only difference between Pakistanis and the Western people. Prof. Atta mentioned that Umaer in his brief stay at the MIT had identified its shortcomings. It was his interest and persuasion that a freshman research unit was created for the young scholars, he added.

Vice-Chancellor of University of Karachi, Prof. Zafar Zaidi said that the administration had outlined a number of projects, which the new institute would undertake after commissioning. "It intends to develop software and agreements are being worked out with the Umaer Basha Foundation for allocation of funds to provide training to the promising students of the institute in the USA, he added. Prof. Zaidi said that the institute in the initial phase would continue the present educational activities and develop research in the allied field of information technology.

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