High Court dysfunctions Farooq Awan as Member PTA

Desperate attempt of Government in its last week of five years tenure, to decide on multi-billion dollar 3G spectrum auction foiled again as Lahore High Court (LHC) has restrained Farooq Awan to perform any function as Member Finance PTA with immediate effect. This judgment was passed by Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah of LHC while hearing the writ petition filed by Khawaja Saad Saleem of Nayatel challenging the legality and validity of Farooq Awan’s reappointment as Member Finance PTA. New rules formulated by Cabinet Division on appointment of Members and Chairman PTA have also been challenged in the same petition. Awan was removed just six weeks ago on the orders of LHC from the post of Chairman PTA, on account of conflict of interests and violation of Telecom Act. Secretaries of Establishment and Cabinet Divisions are facing contempt of court charges on reappointment of Farooq Awan in LHC. It has been learnt that an urgent meeting of Auction Supervisory Committee (ASC) headed by the Finance Minister has ended inconclusive as Member Technical PTA, Dr. Khawar Khokhar did not attend the meeting on medical grounds whereas status of Farooq Awan as Member Finance PTA has been stayed by LHC within six days of his re-appointment. Finalization of Information Memorandum and other important documents holding the key to auction of 3G spectrum has been subject of severe criticism amid charges of illegalities and corruption.

Farooq Awan became a close trustee of the Prime Minister when he made all long distance telecom operators (LDIs) agree to sign a multi-billion dollar controversial International Clearing House (ICH) Agreement under which call rates to Pakistan for overseas Pakistanis were drastically increased and a cartel of operators was formed amid allegations of payment of huge kickbacks to those in power corridors. That is why government has bent backwards and made several attempts to appoint him as Chairman PTA but industry groups have been resenting his appointment and took cases to courts and made him loose his lucrative seat every time. Election Commission of Pakistan has also ordered Cabinet Division not to fill the posts of Members PTA in last days of the present Government. It is also learnt that Secretary Cabinet Division, Mrs. Nargis Sethi was not in favour of re-appointment of Farooq Awan fearing wrath of the LHC on contempt charges but advice of Cabinet Division was overruled by the Prime Minister.

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