Pakistan Telecommunication Authority blocks website against its own chief
By: Abrar Mustafa
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Telecom Authority (PTA) has ordered the Internet Service Providers (ISPs) of the country to block a website and a Facebook page containing material against its newly appointed chairman, Farooq Awan.
It is learnt that the material on the website and the Facebook page contained wrong and baseless information that is why the PTA has ordered its blockage. In an email circular to all ISPs it ordered immediate blocking of website www. Farooqawanexposed.com and Facebook page titled 3GCorruption.
Farooq Awan, a grade 21 officer of the DMG group previously working as secretary in-charge of Ministry of IT (MoIT) was appointed as chairman PTA on the orders of Prime Minister Raja Pervez Asharf. Farooq Awan was first appointed as a member of PTA and then chairman through an overnight notification of the Establishment Division, ignoring the objections of the Cabinet Division on the manner of the appointment. Farooq Awan’s brief posting as secretary MOIT was marred with mismanagement and allegations of corruption. He, however, denied all allegations of corruption against him. Now heads the apex telecom regulator, a key position to decide forthcoming auctioning of 3G wireless spectrum, expected to fetch more than one billion dollars for the cash-strapped PPP government.
The blocked site, when accessed through a proxy server, claimed to expose the nexus between Farooq Awan and the bigwigs. While the authenticity of the published material on the websites could not be established, blocking of such websites is considered a move to silence Internet media. Arbitrary blocking of websites by PTA has been previously criticised by ISP Association of Pakistan (ISPAK) and Internet freedom advocacy groups.