New Pakistan Telecommunication Authority chairman’s appointment becomes controversial
By: Abdul Sattar Khan
LAHORE: The federal government’s appointment of Farooq Awan as the new Chairman Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has become controversial as it is being alleged that the appointment not only encroached governing rules and practices but also bulldozed a specific warning of the Senate Standing Committee.
The Committee had strongly suggested to the federal government to appoint a member or the chairman PTA strictly as per the Telecom Act and to get the approval of Council of Common Interest (CCI) before increasing or decreasing the numbers of members of PTA to avoid any unconstitutional step.
Documents available with The News revealed that Farooq Awan, who was working as acting Secretary Information Technology, had been appointed as member PTA and then as Chairman PTA on the same day i.e. 28th July, 2012 without observing the rules mentioned in various sections of Pakistan Telecommunications Re Organization Act 2006 which directly relate to the appointment of members PTA.
While referring to several clauses and sections of the of the Constitution, Federal Legislative Lists, Telecommunication Re Organization Act 2006, the letter of Chairman Senate Standing Committee, Kalsoom Parveen, categorically says that “by any means immediate elevation of a member of PTA to the chairmanship PTA is not justified”.
For the purpose of upholding transparency and merit and strict adherence be made to the spirit of telecom act 1996, the letter of the Chairman Senate Standing Committee says: “The chairman of the authority must possess adequate experience as member of the authority before being alleviated to the post chairman.”
The letter further says: “Article 154 of the constitution read with item 6 of Part II of Federal Legislative List, empowers the Council of Common Interests (CCI), to formulate and regulate policies as well exercise supervision and control over all the regulatory authorities of the country established under the federal law. This provision ensures that the rights of small provinces like Balochistan, Sindh and Khyber PakhtunKhwa are protected while policy and decision making is done on merit.”
Explaining the functioning of the PTA particularly in context of the appointment of the members and chairman PTA the letter further says: “Currently the authority comprises three members and any further increase in the number of members, being a policy decision, needs approval of CCI. Therefore, proposal to increase/decrease in the members of the authority (if required) has to be approved by the CCI otherwise it will be against the constitution”.
“It is therefore desired that the criterion laid down in the above stated constitutional amendment must be adhered to while increasing/decreasing the numbers of the authority. For the purpose of transparency and provision of equal opportunities to all participants, the positions of members are also required to be filled in according to the PPRA rules, once agreed by the CCI,” letter emphasized.
The letter of chairman senate standing committee, which was written on 16th July, 2012, some twelve days before the appointment of Farooq Awan, first as Member PTA and then as Chairman PTA on the same day on 28th July 2012, had clearly aired its apprehensions regarding the possible appointment of Chairman PTA against the rules referring certain media reports.
In this regard the letter says: “It is being reported in the electronic and print media that a controversial person is going to be elevated/inducted as member of authority and then to be appointed as the chairman”.
Though the letter mentioned the name of another person who was also in the race to be posted as Chairman PTA, yet the method applied for the appointment of Farooq Awan first as member PTA and then as Chairman PTA on the same day was the same which the chairman senate standing committee apprehended in her letter.
The letter was addressed to four secretaries of the federal government including Secretary Cabinet Division, Secretary Establishment Division, Principal Secretary to PM and Senator Raza Rabbani, Chairman National Security Committee.
When contacted the newly appointment Chairman PTA Farooq Awan explained in detail that perhaps the chairman senate standing committee is referring to certain issues in connection with the 18th amendment which have been devolved to provinces where one can obtain the views and approval of the CCI but the Telecom Sector has not yet been devolved as it is still the domain of the federal government. “My appointment as chairman PTA has been made under section 10 of the Civil Servant Act 1973 under which any civil servant can be posted anywhere in the country or in any organization including the regulatory authority,” Awan asserted.
Moreover, he emphasized on one particular point as according to him the Telecommunication Reorganization Act 2006 is silent on the issue of the appointment of the third member and he was made against this third member the appointment of which is not explained anywhere in the act.”
“As far as experience on the relevant field is concerned I am Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) from the USA and I have sufficient amount of experience in telecom sector which I gained during my posting as Secretary IT,” he concluded. Despite the best effort of this scribe including dropping message at her cell phone, Chairman Senate Standing Committee Kulsoom Parveen was not available for her comments but her views were contained in the letter she wrote.