Senators expressed serious concern over the fact that Etisalat has share in Indian telecom sector.

ISLAMABAD (MEDIA)

The Senate’s Standing Committee on Cabinet Secretariat and Capital Administration Division on Thursday directed the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) to provide details over protection of government data.

The senators expressed serious concern over the fact that Etisalat, which took over PTCL and Ufone also has share in Indian telecom sector.

If this is a fact then nothing has been safe or protected in Pakistan and the local data might have been shared with another country. In this regard the PTA has been asked to provide detailed briefing over security concern.

Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Senator Mushahidullah Khan told the committee that there is not a security expert nor any protection, which is a cause for great concern for the government.

Now there is a game of information technology and protection of data and across the world more emphasis was given to it. He regretted that there is no such policy to protect the country data and it might be shared with other countries if the privatised company like PTCL owner has share in other countries (India).

In absence of proper protection, Mushahidullah said the country’s armed forces and other secret documents could not remain safe and stressed for its proper protection.

PTA Chairman Ismail Khan told the committee that there are several safety measures for protection of IT-related data; however, detailed briefing will be given after proper study over it.

Over 3G auction, the PTA chairman told the committee that the process might be completed by end of February 2014 if any unforeseen hurdles do not hamper the auction process.

The authority will try its level best to make the auction more competitive and transparent. Efforts will be made to invite other telecom operators and also give a fair chance to the existing operators. In absence of 3G auction, Ismail Khan said the government is suffering about Rs 400 million per day.

The best practices of international auction will be followed in Pakistan and assured the committee that after its complete process it will give more to the country in terms of creation of more employment opportunities, increase in government revenue and improvement in system. The whole process of auction will be completed in 139 days once it’s commenced.

Committee Chairperson Kalsoom Parveen told the committee that two provinces Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa are badly affected with the use of Afghanistan’s SIMs openly in the country. She claimed that doctors were kidnapped from Balochistan and phone calls are coming from Kabul SIM for ransom. She claimed that these SIMs are being used for criminal and terrorist activities and its use should be stopped even on roaming in Pakistan. The whereabouts of these phone calls from Afghanistan SIMs cannot be located from where they are talking.

The committee was of the view that like India, the Afghanistan SIMs roaming facility should be stopped in Pakistan to get rid of this main source of criminal activity in Pakistan. The legislators suggested to withdrawn roaming facility granted to Afghanistan SIMs, but chairperson of the committee was of the view that the committee was unable to recommend withdrawing roaming facility for Afghanistan SIM.

PTA Chairman Ismail Shah told the committee that the roaming facility to Afghanistan SIMs was granted on government to government agreement. This issue might be taken up on top level of the government through foreign office. As the government has stopped roaming facility to Indian telecom companies, similarly the government can do in the case of Afghanistan. But in border areas of Pakistan the Afghanistan SIMs are working without any roaming because they are close to Afghanistan. He said the government has to follow the international policy over roaming, however, if such directions were given to PTA, it will act accordingly.

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