From digital divide to digital inclusion: Challenges for wide-ranging digitalization in Pakistan

Research output: Journal PublicationArticlepeer-review

37 Citations (Scopus)


The developments, in information and communication technology (ICT), have significantly impacted on some key sectors of societies (such as transport, health, business, education and communication) in many developed and developing countries of the world. However, the Internet has proliferated unevenly across the world, resulting in a global digital divide. In the past decade, concerns related to technology ‘haves’ and ‘haves not’ have grown in prominence in the countries of South Asia (including India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal) that are witnessing an increased digital divide. This study specifically looks at the case of Pakistan. The country's digital inequalities are increasing in terms of the public's access and their use of the Internet and ICT devices (such as mobile phones and computers). Therefore, drawing on the framework of digital divide, this study aims is to explore the diverse challenges that underpin digital divide in Pakistan, and the policy-related issues that affect wide-ranging digitalization in the country. To achieve this aim, this study uses qualitative methods of document review and in-depth interviews and offers thematic analysis of data. This study reveals that contextual factors, including urban-rural divide, gender disparity, income and educational inequalities, religious and cultural barriers, all together underpin Pakistan's existing digital divide. This study further unpacks policy-related challenges, including: a lack of policy evaluation and refinement; a lack of focused research; and inappropriate allocations of funds at federal, national and sectoral levels that affect wide-ranging digitalization in the country.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102206
JournalTelecommunications Policy
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Contextual factors
  • Digital divide
  • Digital inclusion
  • Policy and regulatory framework
  • The Pakistani society

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Management Information Systems
  • Information Systems
  • Communication
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Library and Information Sciences
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


Dive into the research topics of 'From digital divide to digital inclusion: Challenges for wide-ranging digitalization in Pakistan'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this