Broadband DSL Connectivity, Army not allowing ground survey in Fata – Universal Service Fund (USF)

Broadband Internet connectivity, Army not allowing ground survey in Fata – Universal Service Fund (USF)

Islamabad (Daily Business Recorder / Wednesday, November 28, 2012) – An official of the Universal Service Fund (USF) on Tuesday held Pakistan Army responsible for not allowing a ground survey for optical fiber and broadband connectivity in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata).

Map of FATA

Briefing the Senate s Standing Committee on Information Technology (IT), USF s General Manager, Project, Syed Asif Kamal said that 1,039 Information Technology (IT) centers would be established in Higher Secondary Schools across the country.

Under the project, 111 IT centres would be set up in Balochistan at a cost of Rs6 billion and 205 centres in Sindh, he said. The USF, he said, had already set up 145 IT centres in the Hazara telecom region, 229 against the target of 250 in the Faisalabad telecom region while 77 had been set up against the target of 82 in the Multan region.

When the committee asked about the number of projects carried out in Fata, Asif kamal said that the USF had conducted no project in the region after the Army refused it to carry out a ground survey for optical fiber and broadband. The Chairman of the committee responded that he would get permission from the Army. Expressing apprehension over the appointment of new CEO of the USF, the committee asked whether rules and regulations had been followed.

USF officials informed the committee that the Human Resource Governing Committee (HRGC) had expressed dissatisfaction over the performance of the former CEO and recommended to the Board of Directors of the Fund to terminate him.

The Board consists of 9 members, including four from the private sector, four from the government and the CEO. The Board recommended to the Prime Minister, who is the in-charge Minister of IT Ministry, to remove the CEO.

The committee then formed a sub-committee, comprising Zahid Khan (convener), Hafiz Hamdullah (member) and Malik Mohammad Rafique Rajwana (member), to investigate the appointment of CEO USF and the establishment of IT centres in the country.

The committee also expressed concerns over the appointment of the chairman of Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA), Farooq Awan, and constituted a sub-committee, comprising Malik Mohammad Rafique Rajwana, Humayun Mandokhel and Zahid Khan to probe the appointment process.

Humayun Mandokhel informed the committee that the current PTA chairman had caused a loss of Rs3.5 billion to Employees Old-age Benefits Institution (EOBI) when he was the Investment Adviser to the institution. He advised investment in the Bank of Punjab and Haris Steel Mills at a time when these institutions were in the grip of scandals and their share value was dropping.

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