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Making Gwadar the ‘Silicon Valley’ of Pakistan

BY Adnan Ahmed

Can Gwadar be the ‘Silicon Valley’ of Pakistan? Already many world cities are renowned as the ‘Silicon Valley. For instance, Bangalore, Stockholm, Shenzhen, Tel Aviv are known as the silicon valleys of India, Europe, China, and Israel respectively. But any city which earned this prestigious title of becoming the silicon valley of their respective areas had to render inestimable services by the part of all those who contribute to a society, who contribute to policy-making, and who are the bigwigs of their respective fields.

Now the regions which vie for this race of becoming the silicon valley of their states are faced with the same daunting question: How? Gwadar and Balochistan have been in the news mainly because of Gwadar Port, CPEC, and China’s OBOR (One Belt One Road) initiative. Gwadar Port has become operational and the ‘Gwadar Port Smart City master plan was recently approved. 

Let us examine the case study of the very first Silicon Valley of the world ‘Silicon Valley of America’ in California; contributing trillions of dollars to the American economy. California is also America’s most populous state with more than 40 million inhabitants, generating more than 12 percent USA of GDP. The California economy is the 8ht largest in the world according to the World Bank. The state, because of Silicon Valley, hosts giant companies like Apple, Disney Google, and many others. The Silicon Valley not only makes America economically richest in terms of GDP but also technologically advanced; hence much influential in any matter and manner whatsoever. 

However, success always comes with assiduous efforts and hefty prices; and for Silicon Valley, hundreds of people rendered their inestimable services to make it the worth billions of dollar project. But how it all started; who ignited the spark of this multi-billion dollar Valley? Although, as of now, thousands of people are employed and own companies in Silicon Valley of America; combined they contribute to the overall success of Silicon Valley, but it all started just because of a single mindset and perception that has been the hallmark of American society.

Gwadar a commercial port, to receive port calls by ships of different navies: Pakistan Navy chief - Global Times

It all began with a day with gloomy clouds and stony silence; when the parents of a young lad, 15-year-old, was on its deathbed taking his last sigh. After the kid expired, the parents got in complete disarray and were shocked as their only beloved child had expired. Somehow, the panic-stricken and pain-smitten parents did pledge their words amidst the melancholy of their unbearable loss that they would do something incredible to propitiate the memory of their late child. Hence, the then California Governor, Leland Stanford Sr. after losing his only child to typhoid fever decided to honor his dead son by spending most of his fortune to build a state-of-the-art university in America. To make his dreams come true he placed the foundation block of “Stanford University” and euphemistically said his historic words to his wife: “the children of California shall now be our children”.

So the university was inaugurated by Leland Stanford in California. In the same town, on the other hand, a renowned scientist who used to work at Bell Labs, away from California had to be shifted in the town just to take care of his sick mother. The peerless scientist was ‘Shockley’, who invented the transistor and changed the history of California and mankind forever. In 1956, Shockley, the scientist, founded his own company “Shockley Semiconductor Labs” at the place Mountain view. Later on, in 1971, the same place was called for the first time by a journalist Don Hoefler in a report “Silicon Valley USA”. This name stuck till today. And, his company started employing many recent graduates from the same Stanford University. That was the time when the true silicon valley had its full potential.

Furthermore, In 1957, eight Shockley employees left and started their own companies. Hence, in 1968 “Intel” was founded. The same graduates of Stanford University also helped found “AMD” and ‘Kleiner Parkin’ an American venture capital firm and others like Teledyne and XICOR. In 1969, the same Stanford Research Institute became one of the four nodes of ARPANET, a government research project that ultimately made ‘Internet’. In 1970, Xerox opened its PAKC lab which invented early computing technology including ‘ethernet’ computing and the graphical user interface (GUI).

Now, Silicon Valley is an almost $3 trillion neighborhood and the center of research for everything that has to do with Electronics and Telecom. Moreover, they not only do research, they also train the best computer scientists in the world, and when these computer scientists leave the university, but they also go directly to big companies like Google, Apple, or Tesla. In the beginning, companies like Atari, Apple, and Oracle were all founded in the area. In the 1980s, silicon valley became the widely accepted center of the computer industry. eBay, Yahoo, Paypal, and Google are just some of the companies founded in the area in the 1990s by Facebook, Twitter, Uber, and Tesla joining them the following decade.

So, Silicon Valley would not be what it is today if it was not for Stanford University. And, Stanford University would not be made if it were not for that mentality, positive mindset, thoughts, and perceptions that they had made part of their culture long ago. Now if we take a pause and introspect: what is the reason that even after 74 years since independence, we have not been able to build any one of our provinces, city or district following the modern-day needs and tailor it to use the full potential of our youth, which accounts for more than 120 million. 

There are many similarities between the overall geographics of the area in which Silicon Valley is established and Gwadar. Even though the development project in Gwadar is in full swing- yet the most important panacea of all the ills is yet to be discovered. Nonetheless, ports, parks, airports, hospitals, vocational training institutes, energy, roads, and rail projects are being started with full zeal. And, recently, the ‘Gwadar Port Smart City master plan was also approved by the incumbent government to a Chinese firm- yet the utmost thing to do stays intact with us all especially the bigwigs. 

There is a dire need to change the mindset, transform culture and make policies that are based on moderation, innovation, and enlightenment. There ought to be a prevailing sentiment among the ruling elites those who occupy lavish offices and also every citizen of Balochistan in particular and Pakistan in general who could come and say like Leland Stanford: “the children of ‘Balochistan’ shall now be our children”.

Prime Minister Imran Khan, incessantly has been saying that to cripple down corruption and all other malpractices we need to change our mindset and transform the corrupt culture. There is a dire need to assess our mentality and thoughts; because thoughts become words, words become actions; action become habits, habits become character; and the Character becomes destiny. Allah says in the Holy Quran: “Indeed, Allah will not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves.”

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