Having lost some of its functional significance, the post still serves as a connection to the past
At the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, when all established supply chain infrastructure around the globe was affected, the post still found a way to continue offering services to people and communities.
It is the postal systems’ ability to innovate and their resilience in the service of the public that deserves mention. New social and economic services have emerged over time and e-commerce has grown in many parts of the world. In many countries and territories, postal services have been involved in the last-mile delivery of the vaccine using complex cold storage methods, offering platforms for booking vaccinations and even providing space for vaccination centres. This proves that a system many might have considered redundant can still have effective use. Innovation promotes life-changing solutions; so why not make an effort to sustain an established system that can still serve a purpose.
To increase awareness of the role of the post and its contribution to global social and economic development, the World Post Day was declared in 1969 by the Universal Postal Congress in Tokyo as a means to mark the anniversary of the Universal Postal Union’s (UPU) creation in 1874.
The Universal Postal Union, established by the Treaty of Bern, is now a specialised agency of the United Nations that coordinates postal policies among member nations, in addition to the worldwide postal system. UPU’s main objective is to stimulate lasting development of efficient and accessible universal postal services of quality, and guarantee the interconnection of networks. With 192 member countries, the UPU is the primary forum for cooperation between postal sector players. It helps ensure a truly universal network of up to date products and services. With a network comprising more than 650,000 offices and 5.3 million staff globally, and a public service mandate from many governments, the post is unparalleled in its ability to deliver services to anyone, anywhere.
Pakistan Post was established soon after Independence, under the modified Post Office Act VI, 1898 and became operational on August 14, 1947. It fell under the Department of Posts and Telegraph in the Ministry of Communications. In November 1947, Pakistan joined the Universal Postal Union as its 89th member. In 1948, Pakistan Post issued its first postage stamps, a set of four stamps commemorating the country’s independence. In 1959, an All-up-Airmail scheme was introduced by which all letters were airlifted between stations on an air network.
To bring awareness to the role of the post, its contribution to global social and economic development, the World Post Day was declared in 1969 by the Universal Postal Congress in Tokyo as a means to mark the anniversary of the Universal Postal Union’s (UPU) creation in 1874.
Pakistan Post is also providing a universal postal service network in harmony with the Universal Postal Union (UPU) strategy for the secure and timely delivery of mail, money and material at affordable cost through utilisation of human resource, process and technology for innovative product offerings.
As one of the oldest government departments, the Pakistan Post emphasises the use of new communication and information technologies to move beyond what is traditionally regarded as its core business. It provides postal services in every corner of the country through a network of around 13,000 post offices and delivery services to about 20 million households and business communities, servicing over 50 million people, committed to its motto of Khidmat–Diyanat-Amanat. In addition to its traditional role, the Pakistan Post also performs agency functions on behalf of federal and provincial governments, which inter alia include Savings Bank, Postal Life Insurance, Collection of Taxes, Collection of Electricity, Water, Sui Gas and Telephone bills and issuing licences. Pakistan Post is playing a vital role in the economic and social development of Pakistan. It serves as the principal agency for the government in implementing key policies.
Prior to 1840, the postal service was too expensive for most people to use. The cost of sending a single letter could come to a working man’s daily wage or more. Postage was charged by the number of sheets of paper used, and the distance travelled. It was paid for by the recipient. There was no such thing as an envelope. Letters were simply folded and sealed with wax. There were no post boxes, so letters had to be taken to a post office. If it was too costly, the recipient could refuse delivery.
In 1830, James Chalmers, a bookseller and printer from Dundee, United Kingdom, first came up with the idea of pre-paid gummed labels. The Penny Postage Bill was passed by parliament in 1839, whereby prepayment would become the standard. This new postal system became an instant success with a huge increase in people sending letters, which generated profitable revenue. It is worth mentioning here that the radio, when introduced in the subcontinent in 1936, was placed under the administrative and supervisory control of the Post Department.
Letter writing is no longer such a common practice, but its value was considerable until a couple of decades ago. It was a proper literary affair. And people would often sit down to pen letters to family, friends and others depending on the need of the hour. Having lost some of its functional significance, the post still serves as a connection to the past. It also has the potential to be turned into a tool for the future.
The writer is a freelance contributor