Breaking: Pakistani Government Withdraws ICH

Breaking News

Government of Pakistan has decided to withdraw the notorious International Clearing House or ICH, we have confirmed with sources.

With this development, call rates for international incoming calls to Pakistan are likely to go down to pre-ICH levels, we have checked with foreign operators.

Ministry of Information Technology and Telecom has issued a policy directive in this regard that will reverse its directive on ICH issued in 2012, a source who has direct knowledge of the development told ProPakistani.

Pakistan Telecommunication Authority confirmed ProPakistani that it has received a policy directive from MoIT for withdrawal of ICH. PTA said that it will communicate the industry about the directive accordingly.

Regulator said that it had recommended MoIT for withdrawal of ICH.

As per information we have received, the new APC (Access Promotion Charge) is set at zero and LDI operators are free to negotiate their rates with foreign operators for international incoming call charges.

With this move — as mentioned above — international incoming call charges for Pakistan are likely to go down to pre-ICH levels if not below that.

With withdrawal of ICH, grey traffic coming to Pakistan will also decrease substantially as the incentive for grey traffickers will get down to a level where business will not remain viable case for them to continue the illegal channels.

Background

Thanks to those in the powers at that time, Ministry of IT and Telecom issued a policy directive in August 2012, according to which LDI operators were asked to terminate their international circuits as PTCL was mandated to handle the entire international incoming traffic.

Not to forget, Competition Commission of Pakistan tried its best to block ICH but those in the powers then and the members of ICH were strong enough to put CCP’s ruling on deaf ears.

Check below the letter that PTA then issued to LDI operators for formation of ICH:

PTA_Letter_ICH_003

LDI operators were promised a revenue share out of the set-up as per their then market-share, however, they were not required to make any efforts to market or operate anything.

Policy directive also set the minimum charge for any international incoming call at a level that was 400 percent higher than the pre-ICH rate, thus increasing the call charges for those Pakistanis living abroad who wanted to make calls to Pakistan.

ICH was set in place on October 1st, 2012. While it faced serious criticism from Pakistanis with-in the country and abroad, the cartel was also denounced by international trade agencies including USTR, OCED, FCC and others.

Brain Telecom — a Lahore based ISP and LL service provider — took ICH members to court against the illegal formation of the cartel, and consequently won the case through an interim order.

Supreme Court, however, nullified Lahore High Court’s decision and reinstated ICH and said that CCP is the real authority with required mandate to decide on the issue.

CCP, after hearing the case, suspended ICH, issued show cause notices to PTCL and other LDI operators and fined them as well.

Despite all this, international incoming call rates were never reversed by regulator and hence real benefit was never transferred to the international caller.

With today’s policy directive issued by MoIT, call rates have been reversed to pre-ICH level, the formation of ICH has been nullified and LDI operators will resume to begin their international circuits as per pre-ICH procedures.

Further Reading

If you want to further study the impact of ICH on operators and Pakistani people, check below our coverage on the issue:

Tech reporter with over 10 years of experience, founder of ProPakistani.PK


  • Sami

    Finally, a good step from the MoIT after a very long time.

    • Ahmed Habib

      Say thanks to PMLN if you dare. Recently you joined PTI (sources)… :-D

      • Shahid Saleem

        Yes, let us all say thanks for Gullu Butt and the policemen who stood by and watched him without doing anything and also let us thank Shahbaz Sharif who knew “nothing” about this incident.

        • Ali Usman

          Be man enough to atleast appreciate if Govt has done anything good. Nagging all the time depicts immaturity

          • Sheikh Rashid Ahmed

            Aankhen khol, Insaano ki jaaneib gai hain aur tum log abb bhi syasat kar rahay ho

            • Dr. Aamir Liaquat Hussain

              janay do sheikh sahab , ap bhi 88 say siyasat he ker rahay ho :P

            • Jeera

              mein sheikh sabb kay sath hon

          • Shahid Saleem

            When a rich man gives a beggar bits and pieces from his table, then the beggar can be grateful. But we are not supposed to be beggars, and we are not supposed to be mollified with such “tokens”.

            WE WANT REAL CHANGE. WE WANT RESPONSIBLE GOVERNANCE.

            When government (no matter which party or even military) gives us that, then we can appreciate it. Why don’t they start with throwing the ICH beneficiary cartel into jail???

            • Ali Usman

              Pathetic logic, pessimist mentality. People with such nature always remain frustrated and do NOTHING practically. Its only words that can come out of you, no genuine effort for change

              • Shahid Saleem

                Yeah, pretty much the same as what comes out of Admin: words.

          • Guest

            You don’t know Shahid Saleem…!! Be ready for his response..!!!

            • Ali Usman

              I know him now and see no point in replying to his idiotic posts anymore. You dont throw stones at barking dogs :-)

      • Stone

        I wish I could write all the cuss words I know for you but they will only be censored. Leekin samajh to tum gaye go gay

        • Ali Usman

          Use of words tell about character of a person.. Bravo brother for sharing your true self

          • Stone

            Yaaaawwwwnn!!! Holier than thou…..

          • Shahid Saleem

            Sometimes when faced with immense and dumbfounding idiocy of the type you tend to demonstrate, one’s higher mental functioning is short circuited and one resorts to cursing.

            It is not the cursing person’s fault, it’s the damned lack of intelligence on your part.

            • Ali Usman

              You dont throw stones at barking dogs, similarly there is no need replying you anymore. I hope I dont offend Dogs

              • Shahid Saleem

                Then don’t bark.

      • Sheikh Rashid Ahmed

        I will thank God before bakra Eid when qurbani of this Govt will be celebrated.

      • Guest

        main gullu butt incident ki muzammat karta hu aur iski tehqeeqat shaffaf hone chaye par qadri sahb to Pakistan atay nhn aur atay hain to container ma chup k beth jatay hain jesy zindage mout terrorists k hath ma ho us ko kaho islam pe itna he yaqeen ha to mard ka bacha banay aur pakistan aye aur beghair container k bethay jin ki hifazat ALLAH TALA farmatay hain unka koi kuch ni biggar skta smjhy qadri k chamchay. Woh khud canada ma thand enjoy kar rha ha jb yaha 2 ya 3 so banda mar jata ha woh sheta tab nazil ho jata ha

      • Sami

        Lol. say thanks to them for what? that they realized to withdraw it after a year? after making all the money they needed to fill their pockets? … Let me tell you something, the government hasn’t done withdrawn this on their own will, they never wanted to. It is the organizations who made this possible by challenging this in high court and helping us get rid of this Billion Dollar SCAM!

  • Aizaz Ul Haq

    Can someone please explain What is Grey Traffic in non-jargon language

    • Dr. Aamir Liaquat Hussain

      wo log jo calls k liye internet use kerty hain mobile network ki jaga.
      jub mobile sy rates ziada thay to log internet k through calls ki service use kerty thay jo pak main illegal hai, so usko grey traffic kehty hain
      voip call service if you know

      • Aizaz Ul Haq

        Skype bhe illegal hai then ?

        • Imran

          gray traffic is, to setting up gateway’s in Pakistan illegally for voice termination by using GSM SIMs

        • Dr. Aamir Liaquat Hussain

          skype credit use kerty ho to wo illegal hai

      • Ali Salman

        Hum overseas Pakistanis use karty hain, I honestly don’t care if money goes to illegal VoIP operators or whatever as here it is 100% legal to use VoIP in country I am living in. I send lots of money every month like every overseas Pakistani but in return I am forced not to contact my family and friends on frequent basis. On the other hand European and American VoIP operators operates across the globe legally and money goes to their governments in taxes while our Governments blocked Braintel like services to favor officially made cartel or to benefit Etisalat/PTCL and LDIs but not common people.

        • Amir

          You are right in a way. But it is also our duty to abide by the rules. Anyway, I feel Govt. should allow VOIP calls.

      • Malik_Arshad

        EVEN DIRECT DIALING IS ALSO NOT WORKING PROPERLY. sOME TIMES IT IS VERY IMPOSSIBLE TO CONNECT LANDLINES OR EVEN MOBILES NETWORK AND SOME TIME THE CHARGES STARTED WITHOUT TALKING TO THE CONCERNING. SOME TIME, SOUND IN NOT COMING OR GOING. KINDLY FIX THIS PROBLEM ESPECIALLY FOR THE EXPATRIATES

    • Sami

      Grey Traffic refers to international calls we receive from local domestic numbers. Basically, it is call which is originated from outside the country and lands in Pakistan via Internet (VoIP) and is further carried to the end target(the call receiver) via mobile sim’s set up here which is the reason why you get a local number on your CLI when someone from another country calls you.

    • aamir7

      I wrote a piece some years back to explain this. Here’s the link: https://propakistani.pk/2009/07/20/how-to-trace-an-illegal-international-call/

  • DJ

    Good For Customers Bad for Operators (In terms of revenue)..

    • panjgoori

      no. if im not mistaken its also good for operators. as operators were making huge losses with ICH

      • Usman Ansari

        Definitely good for operators, as they have been asking the govt for years to remove the minimum call rates so that they can compete with grey traffickers and earn their revenue through higher volumes at lower prices. They preferred this to ICH, but the Zardari govt wanted it’s extra revenue in addition to taxes.

        • Ali Usman

          Your Telenor is happy indeed :-)

  • Arsalan Shah

    Finally some good news!!! :)

  • Ali Salman

    Hum overseas Pakistanis use karty hain, I honestly don’t care if money goes to illegal VoIP operators or whatever as here it is 100% legal to use VoIP in country I am living in. I send lots of money every month like every overseas Pakistani but in return I am forced not to contact my family and friends on frequent basis. On the other hand European and American VoIP operators operates across the globe legally and money goes to their governments in taxes while our Governments blocked Braintel like services to favor officially made cartel or to benefit Etisalat/PTCL and LDIs but not common people.
    Is this what you do with overseas Pakistanis in return who send billions of dollars every year to support economy…just for your few million rupees? While local Pakistani operators can operate globally providing services to overseas Pakistanis.

  • RP

    I will not be surprised if this has been done solely because Etisalat after being pushed to make their full payment against their buyout of ptcl still hasn’t been received and no plans either in the near future. It will benefit offshore Pakistanis and companies doing business with Pakistan but we will definitely lose a huge amount of money being received against ICH and the additional taxes against higher ptcl profits. This is solely a political decision and international pressure because from an economic perspective it was in interest of the economy to have it in place or rather required adjustment or maybe a slight adjustment in process. What the ministry of IT actually needs to do is not seen doing..

    • eyescreaman

      If government will like to survive by creating such cartels then there is something really wrong in their approach. Creating an open market and giving licenses to anyone who wants to become a DID reseller is one of the ways to make money. You sell licenses and whoever has the best value will survive the competition.

      • RP

        Sure that’s fair, but the expected revenue needs to be somehow generated. It’s not that your country’s economy is growing drastically that creating competition will win you huge numbers in termination bringing in the same or even close revenue as previously. Maybe setting a base rate half of what was previously should be a good start to cover up for the lost revenue..

        Even though I deviated from my original thought that such decisions should be based on fair grounds and not as outcomes of political motives.

    • andaaz apna apna

      I am not a doctor. That is why i do not comment on surgery matters because its not my profession. Please follow my example.

      • Shahid Saleem

        You are not a doctor, but then you are also just nothing, so maybe you should go comment on that.

        • Ali Usman

          and you are pathetic indeed

  • inquisitive

    Millions were stolen from USF to make arrangements for ICH. All that equipment is useless now? Who will answer for that circus?
    And NOW i will see how PeeTCL shall prove itself more profitable than Apple Inc.

    • aleem dar

      USF to bana hi in kamo k lia ha. Black money ko white karnay k liay. USF to ayashi ka ada ha. this is made to honor the relatives of politicians. if you want to get high salary and lucrative perks and life style then go for usf. there is external monitoring, external legal advise, external evaluation, external audit and everything external. you just have to own nothing in usf but high salary is definitely in your pocket.

    • this time

      can u imagine 30 office boys for 60 officers. 50 thousands with additional perks for assistant level jobs. no audit since last many years, because we give high protocol to the auditor. hum na auditor k betay ko malaysia ka tour karwaya ha or us ko usf me bharti b kar lia ha. jo bolta ha hum uska mou pesou sa bhar detay hen.

    • Maya khan

      if you can speak our words then we will take excellent care of you,otherwise we will opt for the next option.yaha rehna ha to wohi karo jo ham ketay hen warna …….. agay tum hob jante ho

  • Salman Ansari

    Good Post, Aamir. Finally a wrong has been righted. I have given a more detailed venting of my feelings on my Facebook.

    • Shahid Saleem

      your post is not public.

  • Shahid Saleem

    Why is mathematics so hard for you? If something goes down 50% you know it’s half price. If it goes down 100%, it means it’s FREE. So what does it mean to go down 400%??!?!?!!?!?!? Does it mean the companies GIVE YOU 3x the cost of the call instead of charging money??

    Man, people used to criticise this blog for bad english, but here is 100% incredible math.

    • aamir7

      Yes, call charges will go down by around 400 percent. This statement is true.

      APC is brought down to zero. Buts it’s not only APC that is deducted from international incoming call. There is ASR, AAR etc too, which of course isn’t Zero.

      • Shahid Saleem

        If I have to pay for a call, then obviously call charges have not gone down 100%. So how can you repeatedly claim 400%?

        Use the example of fake numbers. Suppose a call from international to Pakistan costs Rs 0.20 now. How much will it cost after “going down 400%”?

        Again, it is simple mathematics. What you are claiming does not even make sense remotely. Please explain how anything in the world can go DOWN by more than 100%.

        • XYZ

          Rs 0.20 when downed by 400% will be Rs. 0.05.

          • adil

            its go downed by 75% :D

          • Shahid Saleem

            Um, Rs 0.05 is 25% of Rs 0.20. That means it is down by 75%, not 400%. Where did you learn math?

            If something is Rs 100, and it is down by 50%, it now costs Rs 50.

            If something is Rs 100, and it is down by 75%, it now costs Rs 25.
            If something is Rs 100, and it is down by 100%, it now costs Rs 0.

            So how can anything ever possibly go down by more than 100%?

        • Guest

          Go to Fiverr website, they say that if you upload a video for your gig then you will sell 220% more. So, it is the world of 220% :D

          • Shahid Saleem

            Going up by 220% or whatever is possible. Going down by more than 100% is never possible.

            • ImranG

              Dear, I don’t see anywhere admin has mentioned that overall call rates would go down 400%. If you read closely then you will see that call rates have gone up by 400% after ICH. Suppose call rate to Dubai was Rs.5/min and after ICH it increases to 400% or Rs.25/min then after closure of ICH 400% increase will be reversed. Relatively you can say rates will go down by 400% considering the context in mind.

              • Shahid Saleem

                That’s because the post is now edited to remove that.

                And again, you also fail at math. There is no such thing as taking “context” into account when something drops by greater than 100%. It’s simply not mathematically or logically possible. The price can drop by 75% but not 400%.

        • Silent Observer

          typical propakistani, creating sensationalism to attract traffic, hence get ads (which he claims is not his source of income :))

      • Wahid eConnect

        As a user, we do not care about APC, ASR, AAR and ASS :-) all we care is how much we pay which is call charges. So Shahid right, call charges can not go down more than 100% unless they pay us for making calls :-)

        I guess you have mixed with the initial increase. After ICH, call charges were increased by 400-500%. It is true that an increase can be any X% but decrease can not be more than 100%

  • Salman Ansari

    So, Finally it has happened: the infamous ICH will be disbanded and the Termination rate will be brought down to 5 cents.

    The thieves have made off with millions of dollars, the diaspora has suffered but I guess we may have a restart now.

    I seem to have been the bete noir for the ones who have propagated this dismantling of the hard won deregulation. The ICH was an anomaly created only to benefit Etisalat that is, in any way not paying up the $800 Million due to the Government.

    Pakistan lost out on many fronts: revenues and putting the LDIs out of business by giving them opium.

    In every meeting, TV program or Twitter I had maintained that the illegal hiking up of the illegally increased Termination rate only benefitted the few (specially one ex-minister) who were played the millions of dollars worth of theft.

    I had also proposed that all this non-sense of deploying millions of dollars worth of equipment (to detect ‘grey traffic’, blocking IP addresses, etc) was wasting time and effort of the ‘Agencies’ and distraction of the already befuddled Ministry of IT. Only one company and perhaps several in the thieving ‘baradari’, food chain got rich.

    Pakistan got poorer. Dismantling the hard won deregulation and loss of considerable revenues. Loss of reputation. Illegal traffic coming in from Saudi Arabia, since the ICH didn’t want to have a bilateral agreement with them.

    It was incredible to see that the illegal rerouted traffic was also coming in via Dubai numbers!

    It was also highly discriminatory towards the millions of Pakistanis who wanted to call home. they are the ones whose remittances is propping up this creaky economy. the rest of the funds are just usurious loans, which will become millstones around our necks. .

    The only way was just to reduce the Termination rate and everything will fall in place.

    This has now happened. Lets see if the dormant industry steps up and the revenues fall in place.

  • Azi

    Really Good news for us but lets see if it finally implement.. the thing is implementation

  • Amir

    A great move. Appreciated.

  • Mubeen

    Thanks PML N

  • Fawad Niazi

    Great Insights in the Comments … all based on biasness :) Can anyone show real analysis on which APC can be fixed as ZERO. ICH Policy may have some issues but it was prepared through consultation and consensus so it must be revised through consultation. Can any sensible person appreciate a Govt action without consultation with the stakeholders. Actually, we fall prey of the international community pressure. Interestingly, I read CCP decision (Does anyone else did it before saying that CCP was right?) where CCP says that its against the WTO commitment without any confirming it from WTO Secretariat Pakistan. WTO commitment has MFN exemption and there is no De-Regulation in the international termination domain. I will be glad if all ICH haters start building pressure on international operators to revise downward prices to 400% less. Our Govt will add taxes and sign IMF and KL Bill to have FOREX money and let lose the ICH way. If all are so sane than please make taxes on telecom services at zero as it will generate more economic activity and GDP will increase as well. Our poor people will also be able to call their loved one. My two cents and people like Amir Ata and Salman Ansari are respected experts and may know better than me.

  • Asim Ijaz

    I see cheap ads .. which should not be there at a site like propakistani !!!

    • Freaky

      Those ads are based on your own web surfing, if ads are cheap so your internet surfing is, simple.

    • eyescreaman

      Use ad block plus and enjoy the internet ad free.

  • ahmiq

    They will get into operation by August 1st :(

  • Guest

    A good move and this is the result of a transparent hiring of a telecom professional expert as Dr Ismail Shah as Chairman PTA. Credit goes to PML(N) Govt for taking a right decision at the right time when grey traffic was getting out of control and because of 3G over the top applications for voice are impossible to stop.

    • Shahid Saleem

      So why did it take a year to do it?

      And where is the Youtube block? When PML was in opposition two years ago they used to make fun of PPP for blocking Youtube and when they came to power, SILENCE.

      A good move you say? You are doomed to forget history.

  • Hence Proved

    Once again there is no system but only people who are acting behind this mafia. In 2012, there were agents of PTCL mongering in MOIT with handy print outs to get signs of authorities for such directives. Now when these agents have shifted their duties to other operators, hence the game is changed. But all this shows extreme negligence and incapability of ministry. who are acting like goons and dancing on the instructions of this mafia.

  • kash

    Humari usa me pakistan ki call,1 cent thi , Hume 1000 minutes mil rahe the, jab rate bare to 7cent hu gaye increase is 600% or minutes only 120 minutes, ab ager call wa pis old rares per gai to hume 1000 mintues mile ge and rare will be 1 cent Us hopefully.

  • Tauseeq Raja

    Let me know simply, have call charges been reduced for overseas?

    • lucid

      I wonder how come such a big news came overnight and whats the rationale behind it when most of the players including big guns of pakistan were making good money due to higher rates due to ICH.
      Still confused because its consumer friendly but here who cares about that…something is fishy and we are missing the real link.

  • Nasratullah

    No one did anything they lost a lot of money during ICH implementation and so they have to switch back to it to gain money

  • ImranG

    When will the news be effective?

  • ImranG

    When will the new calling rates be effective?

  • naeem khan

    @inquisitive i want to know more about USF role in ICH. How USF money was used for establishing ICH

  • aqsa

    hallo good moring

  • zad khan

    its been a month now but call prices are same no change at all, seems like a glitch

  • Abbasi

    But rates are still same. No change. Is there any effective date of this order?

  • Zahid

    solution is very simple GREY TRAFFIC were approximately finished when IP BLOCKING Software were applied earlier this year. so if PTA is serious they should stop VPN ips which are using bandwidth for termination this problem will resolve permanently. In my observation 95% grey operators were facing real trouble-full challenge to run their gateways during the ip blocking period about 3months.