The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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India & Pak connect
- Karachi joint venture to train call centre hands

Bangalore, Feb. 15: India is helping Pakistan set up a training camp.

For the first time ever, a Karachi-based software company and a New Delhi-based infotech organisation have jointly bid for a $1 million training project of the Sindh government in Pakistan.

The partnership between Arwen Tech and Evolve Services to bid for training 1,000 youths in call centre skills marks the beginning of a new phase of joint ventures in infotech business.

A number of similar collaborations will explore markets in the US, Europe, Australia and West Asia later this year, Pakistan Software Houses Association president Jehan Ara said.

'People are talking to each other to find business opportunities. I think both countries will benefit from these discussions. Our strategy is not to compete with Indian companies for the US market.

'We want to work with India first in Saudi Arabia and later in the US, Europe and Australia. We are talking long term,' she said at the end of her 10-day visit to India.

Jehan Ara led 15 honchos of Pakistan's IT and ITES companies to Nasscom's Leadership Summit in Mumbai last week. On the eve of the summit, she and Nasscom president Kiran Karnik signed an agreement to increase trade and cooperation in IT and ITES sectors and offer products and services to third countries.

Discussions are also on between Arwen Tech and Bangalore-based Hewitt India on building strategies and resources for e-governance initiatives of the Pakistan government in Islamabad, Jehan Ara said.

Exchange programmes for students and higher education modules by IITs and IIMs would take shape later, she added.

Atiq Rehman, CEO of Arwen Tech, said: 'We have collaborated with Evolve services for the bid. The tenders opened last week and the contract will be finalised by this month. If we get through, we will form a joint venture for implementing it and more people from India can work in Pakistan for upto six months.'

Rehman was part of the Pakistan software delegation that wound up its visit to Mumbai, Hyderabad and Bangalore today.

Pakistan has about 400 software and 70 BPO firms with IT exports likely to touch $500 million this year. The Pakistan government has permitted cent per cent FDI and a tax-free regime till 2016 as part of its initiative to catalyse the growth of IT industry, Jehan Ara said.

'We are growing at 50 to 80 per cent a year and this graph will continue because of the support from the burgeoning telecom sector,' she said.

She said long-drawn visa procedures were a bottleneck for enhanced Indo-Pak collaborations in infotech sector. 'We are going to ask both governments to process visa applications quickly and to issue a country visa than a city visa. We could not go to cities like Chennai because our visas allowed visit only to Mumbai, Hyderabad and Bangalore,' she said.

Jehan Ara said she had invited N.R. Narayana Murthy, chairman and chief mentor of Infosys Technologies, to visit Pakistan. She and other CEOs visited the campus of software firms like Infosys, MindTree Consulting, vMoksha Technologies and Mphasis in Bangalore.

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