When we were listing prospective participants for our intensive interviews, we naturally identified representatives from the Electronic Government Directorate (EGD) as sources of some of the most valuable input towards our research.

As easy as it was to pinpoint members of EGD, we soon realized that getting in contact with any of them would be a different ballgame altogether. After all, this highly important organization develops and maintains the electronic representations of some of the key ministries and government offices of Pakistan. What we did not expect was that officials from this organization would be completely inaccessible due to technical reasons to start with.

We found the EGD website at the top of all results when we searched for ‘Electronic Government Directorate’ on Google search. It was pleasing to note that a list of email contacts was present on this website. Six of these contacts were emailed with an introduction of B4A and an invitation to participate in this project. While getting a ‘no’ would have been halfway acceptable, getting a mail delivery failure bounce back was the last thing on our minds.

We called up directly at the Directorate’s head office three times only to be told by the support staff to call back later. One staff member shared the Director EGD’s personal email, asked for our contact details and promised to call back, but that never happened either.

Disappointed, We decided to have a look at some other websites which EGD maintains and landed on the official website of the Government of Pakistan (GoP). Only going through the ‘about’ information there was enough to confirm our fears. Starting from Islamic Republic of Pakistan which was wrongly written as ‘Islamic republic of Pakistan’, the entire text seemed to have been hurriedly copy-pasted from somewhere – so hurriedly, that all the formatting had gone awry with multiple spaces between words reflecting unprofessionalism at its best. Furthermore, we found that the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has been spelled as ‘Khyber Pakhtun Khwa’ which is wrong. Apparently, capital letters were used in places where they were not required.

We emailed the custodian of the GoP’s official website on the email address given on the ‘contact us’ page requesting correction of errors on the page, and got a delivery failure bounce back email.

The entire experience left us with a very bad taste in the mouth. It is shocking to see the level of negligence and complacence which is being maintained at official levels and requires immediate attention.