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Pakistan turns its back on crypto to keep anti-terrorism watchdogs happy

Meanwhile, will train a million IT graduates in Artificial Intelligence

Pakistan's minister of finance declared last week that cryptocurrency would never be legal in Pakistan and actions are in motion that would ban the digi-cash. Forever.

"Cryptocurrency will never be legalized in Pakistan," declared Aisha Ghaus Pasha at a session of the Senate Standing Committee on Finance and Revenue last week. According to multiple local reports, the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) and the Information Technology Ministry were ordered to begin working on the ban.

It turns out Pakistan has a pretty good reason for eschewing digital bucks. The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) – an intergovernmental body founded by the G7 – put it as a condition in order to keep the country off the "gray list" of countries flagged as of concern due to less than perfect records on Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing.

Up until now, cryptocurrencies have been a gray under Pakistani law as they are neither illegal nor regulated. Pakistan's central bank, SBP, recommended banning cryptocurrency in January 2022 and the government has often expressed anti-crypto views, even as adoption was popular in the country.

Blockchain data platform Chain Analysis ranked Pakistan third in its Global Crypto Adoption Index in late 2021. In 2022, it fell to sixth place after SBP recommended the ban.

The Pakistan rupee is currently experiencing high inflation and devaluation. Its value dropped 3.3 percent last week to hit an all-time record low of 300 per US dollar following the arrest of former PM Imran Khan.

But while Pakistan seeks to eliminate cryptocurrency, it is investing in AI. The government said [PDF] it would train one million IT graduates in Artificial Intelligence and Allied Technologies by 2027.

"To achieve this, at least 10,000 new trainers will be required to impart high-impact AI & Allied Technologies education," according to a National Artificial Intelligence Policy draft.

A survey conducted by the Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication in 2022 revealed that less than ten percent of the current workforce working in computing and IT is skilled in AI and Allied Technologies.

The ministry also set itself more goals: to fund at least 1,000 AI-led R&D initiatives in academic and private sectors by 2026, and that Pakistan will file over 2,000 AI-related patents by 2026. ®

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