All I can say is WOW! As I stood there at the podium watching the 550 people who had gathered for the event, there was a feeling of absolute joy and satisfaction. Many weeks of hard work and sleepless nights had gone into the planning and execution of this event but it was all worth it.
This was the first time the P@SHA ICT Awards had been taken on the road. The decision had been made by the Central Executive Committee of P@SHA that we should come out of our comfort zone and start rotating this flagship event across different key cities of Pakistan. Lahore, therefore, was the first choice. There is so much technology innovation happening in Lahore, so many successful companies and startups, so much talent coming out of the major universities.
Participation at the event included professionals, university students, startups, corporates, government officials, the media and bloggers not only from Lahore but also from Karachi, Islamabad, Faisalabad, Multan, Gujranwala, Rawalpindi, Peshawar and Sialkot. Student volunteers for the event came from 8 different universities. And the Royal Palm Golf & Country Club made for such a beautiful venue.
The proceedings started with an able recitation from the Quran by Awais, a Masters student from FAST Islamabad and a blogger & aspiring entrepreneur. Then we played Green & White, the theme song for the event, which was written and produced by Yusuf Jan. It was a great start to the proceedings which were mainly a combination of the announcement of our Oscars interspersed with musical performances by various groups – the FAST Music Society, a combination of rock, rap and pop by the UCP Music Society, Sajid Hussain from Sofizar – a talented SEO specialist and a vocalist, the sweet voice of Maleeha Azeem and a duet by Maleeha and Nighat Dad, a TBTT activist and IP lawyer.
Awards were given in 20 different categories. 130 nominations were received this year – the highest ever. A complete list of winners is provided here – P@SHA ICT Awards Winners List.
One of the unique things about this year was that 3 new categories were introduced: E-Marketplace, Mobile Games and Animation. There is a lot of interesting work being done in this space and it was importnat to recognize the new breed of companies who were making a mark for themselves both in the domestic and international arena.
This year, for the first time, one company won in 4 different categories – E-Government, Security, Communications and Research & Development. The name of the company: Center for Advanced Research in Engineering (CARE) from Islamabad. A group of PhDs quietly working away on producing really cutting-edge technologies that are being used both in Pakistan and in countries in the region.
None of this could have happened without the support of our sponsors – Naseer Akhtar President & CEO of Infotech who not only took on the Platinum Sponsorship but also arranged for us to host the event at the Royal Palm, Microsoft Pakistan who once again took on the Gold Sponsorship, wi-tribe who came to the party for the first time with a Silver Sponsorship & also provided free wifi and online streaming, PSEB and IBM who continued to play their role by sponsoring the Bronze. Zia Imran, MD of PSEB, was also actively involved at various stages of the planning for the event, Intel who continues to support our activities each year; Mixit, Dell & Oracle who supported the Tertiary Student Category thus enabling us to recognize good work being done by young upcoming talent in Pakistan. And of course Google who was the Digital Marketing Partner and CIO Pakistan who continue to be our Technology Media Partner. Rabia Garib, Editor-in-Chief of CIO Pakistan, was also my co-host for the evening.
Last but not least, the young people without whom I would have been totally lost – Rafaeel Akbar Chaudhry who took on a lot of the organizational activity including Sound, Lights, Projection System, Photography & Video; Zaeem Yaqoob Khan and Maria from UCP who, together with Rafaeel, identified the young Volunteers who were there at every stage of the execution of the event; Usman Latif who led the bloggers initiative and worked with the wi-tribe team, Iftikhar Hussain who brought Pepsi Sting into our lives and was there to lend a hand with the organizational work, Rohan Emmanuel who went off to buy various things that we needed at the last minute and so many others who did their part to make the event into the stupdendous success that it was.
From my team, Mustafa Parmar was there at every step over the past two months making sure that all the nominations were in, that the collateral (the cool knapsacks with the tshirts, mugs and notebooks) was ready in time, that the banners were printed, that it was all shipped out to Ovex Technologies (thanks to Faisal Khan who allowed us to use his office for storage and who arranged to send all the goodies to the venue and offered transportation and any help that we required) and Mustafa even reconstructed some of the Awards that came apart during the shipping process. Thank you Mustafa for all that you do :-).
Before we broke up for dinner at 9.30 pm, the CIO Pakistan team was asked to come and cut their second birthday cake – Blogger Haris Nadeem and I conspired to make sure that Lahore celebrated the birthday even if it was a belated celebration.