Pakistan’s Military Dabbles in Tablet Manufacturing

According to this Techland report, Pakistan’s military is building its own homegrown version of the iPad. The project is apparently a joint effort by the military using Pakistani engineering and Chinese hardware to be sold to consumers in the country. The device is being developed at an air force base in Kamra in northern Pakistan, alongside defense projects. It is being called the PACPAD 1 (The PAC in its name comes from the name of the facility where it is put together – Pakistan Aeronautical Complex). The devices use Google's free Android 2.3 OS. The device cost around $200.

What's unsettling about it among Pakistanis is why the military is building a consumer device when they should be focusing on matters of defense.

“I just can’t figure it out,” said Jehan Ara, head of Pakistan’s Software Houses Association, said of the PACPAD. “Even if they could sell a billion units, I can’t see the point. The air force is supposed to be protecting the air space and borders of the country.”

“The defense industry is trying to justify its presence by doing more than just produce weapons,” said Ayesha Siddiqa, author of Military Inc., a critical study of military businesses. “Some smart aleck must have thought we can make some money here.”

Some in the country call it a "vanity project," while others have shown cautious optimism. Personally I wonder how much of the money the United States gives Pakistan's military is going towards projects like these. Further, assuming it sells well, what is the Pakistani military going to do with all the money it makes? Finally one has to wonder just how secure these devices are and if there should be concerns about the government using these devices (by some way yet undiscovered by those who might buy it) to violate the privacy of its users…

A second-generation PACPAD will be launched in the next three months and will be capable of connecting to the Internet via cellphone networks and other improved features. Officials say that its Kamra facility is capable of producing up to 1,000 devices a day.

Source: Techland

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