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IT ministry complains FATA Secretariat restricts broadband expansion

IT ministry complains: FATA Secretariat restricts broadband expansion

ISLAMABAD: The Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication has hit out at the Fata Secretariat for refusing to allow extension of the Broadband for Sustainable Development project in tribal areas for the provision of 2G and 3G telecom services under the Universal Services Fund.

Speaking at a meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Information Technology on Tuesday, chaired by Senator Shahi Syed, State Minister for Information Technology Anusha Rahman revealed that her ministry had sent many letters to the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) Secretariat, seeking the go-ahead and support for spreading broadband services in the far-off region.

“The Fata Secretariat is still following the policy of previous government, which was against IT services in tribal areas in the name of security,” she remarked.

An IT ministry official told meeting participants that after the tribal areas came under telecom coverage, it would help to counter illegal phone calls from Afghan SIMs and trace terrorists through latest technology.

“We want Pakistan’s telecom network to work effectively there to counter the illegal phone calls emanating from Afghanistan,” the official said.

Once the Fata Secretariat gives the green signal for broadband services, the IT ministry will undertake a survey to assess the requirement of information technology services and design projects accordingly.

“The broadband project will be spread to all seven agencies of Fata,” the state minister said. Under the Broadband for Sustainable Development project, the ministry will cover and connect all under-developed areas by 2019 and spend over Rs20 billion on providing 2G and 3G services.

Rahman said the IT ministry had received Rs13.1 billion over the past three years, of which Rs11.5 billion had been spent on telecom services in the rural areas. She revealed that massive corruption had been unearthed in certain projects of the IT ministry, which followed a polluted system of project formulation, creating loopholes and paving the way for misappropriation.

“Corruption-related cases have been sent to the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) for inquiry, which is under way,” she said.

According to Rahman, in certain areas such as Musakhel in Balochistan, some local people are creating hurdles in the way of launching projects in order to serve vested interests and the government is tackling the situation.

Courtesy : Express Tribune



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