With the departure Dr. Muhammad Yaseen, Pakistan Telecommunication Authority has become a headless organization.
Dr. Yaseen’s 4 year employment tenure as Chairman of the authority expired on July 23, 2012. Number of affairs remained at stand still on July 24th due to absence of ultimate authority.
Though, there is no time limit for the selection of new Chairman but Government of Pakistan should have nominated someone for the next tenure before the exit of departing Chairman.
Rumors kept circulating in the Telecom and IT Ministry and PTA offices over the possible names who are supposedly making efforts for the position of Chairman. The interesting candidates include people from within the authority as well as outsiders.
At the moment, people at authority belong to various school of thoughts. There are people inside PTA who believe that existing member technical Dr. Khawar Siddique Khokhar has a better chance of becoming the next Chairman. In their support, they claim that Chairman PTA is supposed to be a technical person since the post has to deal with telecommunication related issues. Another example which is being quoted for the support is that Ex-Chairman Dr. Yaseen was also a member technical before he was made Chairman after Shahzada Alam left the post.
People who are not in favor of this idea that a member technical has to be a Chairman say that Chairman is a regulatory post and a person with financial background and exposure can best suits the office.
There is another school of thought who think that an outsider must be inducted if the worsening situation of PTA as well as Telecom sector has to be controlled again. This group is of the view that existing administration of PTA is a part of what Dr. Yaseen thought and practiced who is already facing severe corruption cases. Therefore, existing people cannot be trusted for any future assignments.
An official of a cellular operator told that it was the worst era of telecommunication under the leadership of Dr. Yaseen. Not only foreign direct in telecom sector came down to its lowest level but PTA’s own earning remained minimum in 2011-2012. Outstanding fee that PTA collects regularly from its license holders has crossed Rs. 60 bn mark. His incompetence cost PTA losing control over telecom players. Despite of numerous existing regulations for the healthy management of telecom services in Pakistan, authority became a laughing point at the hands of telecom players who ridicule it and deliberately bypass authority and take favorable decisions from higher courts of Pakistan.
During last 4 years, the morale of most of PTA’s employees remained low. Although Dr. Yaseen favored his personal friends in terms of various contracts but he neglected the human resource of his own organizations. It is also to his credit that HR was never assessed and promoted during his 4 year chairmanship. Even, the benefits and salary packages were reduced on account of nothing.
Sources at ministry confirmed that Government is planning to change the Pakistan Telecommunication Act which is a major hurdle in the way of exercising authority over the appointment of Chairman and other members of the PTA. The existing structure of PTA is very complex.
Sources reveal that apart from others, clause number 3 under Chapter II may be amended which restricts that chairman must be selected from the existing members and no outsider will be appointed.
Analysts say if Government intend to amend the Act then it will require some time as the process involves making of amended draft by law division and then getting it endorsed by parliament. In that case, Government may appoint a Federal Secretary to look after the affairs of PTA in the mean time.
The post of Chairman has become very important for the Government as a possible 3G licensing may give a much needed boost in terms of revenue. Also, a trustworthy Chairman may help award license to some pre-selected friends.
All the contenders particularly the existing members of authority are monitoring the situation very closely. Sources pointed out that they are ready to challenge any act of Government in the court of law that will go against the Telecom Act.
Industry analysts believe that in this crucial time, a visionary and experienced person should be appointed as a new Chairman who could establish the might of authority while bringing onboard all the stake holders including the telecom players.