KARACHI: Pakistan has launched a homegrown messaging application that could serve as a replacement to the globally popular instant messaging and voice-over-IP service, WhatsApp, the country’s IT minister said on Tuesday, describing it as a “formidable alternative.”
The South Asian country unveiled the application, Beep Pakistan, over the weekend, which has been designed by the Pakistani IT ministry in collaboration with the National Information Technology Board,
The application, currently exclusive to the government and will be made available to the public within a year, includes security features that position it as a “reliable” option for users, according to IT Minister Aminul Haque.
“Beep Pakistan, slated for public use within a year, is set to become the most secure communication platform for our citizens, gradually establishing itself as the preferred substitute for WhatsApp,” Haque told Arab News, highlighting that the app was developed and source-coded within the country.
The ‘made-in-Pakistan’ app stands out not only because of its enhanced security features, but it has also a diverse range of options, including data-sharing and high-quality audio/video calling and conferencing, according to the minister.
“Its conference feature will ultimately make it an alternative to Zoom and other applications as well,” he added.
Haque said the project began in 2020 and came to fruition after surmounting various challenges and obtaining necessary security clearances.
Asked about the challenging task of introducing the app to a population largely accustomed to WhatsApp, Haque replied by drawing parallels with localized apps in neighboring countries that successfully gained prominence, alongside the global giants. He expressed confidence that Beep Pakistan’s security aspects would drive its adoption.
Saad Shah, a Pakistani tech expert based in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), pointed out that countries like the UAE and China had established local apps, like WeChat and Botim in their early stages.
“By taking timely decisions, they have made the masses accustomed to their local technology,” he said, adding that Pakistan was “very late” in this regard.
Shah cautioned that introducing a local app in Pakistan, where WhatsApp already enjoys a strong base, might face resistance due to late entry.
However, Muhammad Zohaib Khan, chairman of the Pakistan Software Houses Association (P@SHA), lauded the launch of Beep Pakistan as a “significant achievement” in the field of communication in Pakistan.
“The app’s distinction lies in its origin and source-coding within Pakistan, rendering Beep Pakistan a highly secure platform for government departments to share data and communicate while maintaining confidentiality,” Khan said.
“This is a substantial accomplishment,” he said, adding the government departments will initially utilize it to share official data, facilitate communication and conduct meetings.
With the passage of time, its features will be further enhanced, Khan noted, citing China’s WeChat and highlighting its multifaceted features beyond just messaging.