Supreme Court of Pakistan has directed the federal government to appoint permanent chairman of Pakistan Telecommunication Authority immediately.
A three-member bench headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry directed this during a hearing of the petition for early auction of 3G technology in the country.
It maybe recalled that Supreme Court had accepted a petition for earliest auction of third-generation telecom licenses (3G, 4G, LTE). During the process, Supreme Court had directed the government to appoint PTA Chairman and members as auction of 3G was not possible without these appointments.
Federal Government, while complying with the directions, had appointed Dr. Ismail Shah as Acting Chairman PTA and Tariq Sultan as Member Finance. The slot of Chairman was termed “Acting” despite the fact that Dr. Ismail Shah was hired properly while fulfilling all mandatory requirements.
Market experts say that interim nature of Chairman is beyond comprehension as selection was properly made after undergoing the entire hiring process. Some believe that Government appointed Dr. Ismail as Acting Chairman only to keep a check on him to make sure that he doesn’t go beyond the federal control.
The glitch is now caught by the Supreme Court, which remarked that under Section-3 of PTA laws there was no concept of an acting chairman.
Supreme Court in its order said that Federal Government must appoint permanent Chairman of telecom regulatory body at earliest and to auction the 3G license without any further delay.
It won’t be out of place to mention here that PTA has already published an advertisement for the hiring of consultants for 3G auction. PTA said that it will finalize the hiring of consultants by third week of November, after which preparation of IM for 3G will get started.
Auction of 3G licenses – if everything goes as per plan – is likely to happen around February 2014.