Suspended For Ever: Supreme Court Cancels Stay Order on ICH

Supreme Court of Pakistan has ordered the cancellation of Stay Order on International Clearing House and has asked Pakistan Telecommunication Authority to ensure the restoration of  two way interconnects of LDI operators.

PTA, in response, has directed all operators to withdraw from ICH and to restore their interconnect circuits for international incoming traffic.

Pakistan Telecommunication Authority, through a letter to LDI operator (produced below) deregulated AAR and ASR; meaning that LDI operators are free to charge whatever they want to without any flooring.

Letter also said that LDI operators can negotiate with foreign operators with their best abilities to maintain a fair competition in the market.

PTA’s letter to LDI Operators:

PTA_Letter_ICH

Background of ICH

To know a little background of ICH, here is how things unrolled during past two years or so:

1 – Formation of ICH

ICH was formed on October 2nd, 2012 through alleged lobbying of LDI operators when Ministry of IT issued a policy directive for the formation of International Clearing House.

Directive from MoIT came at a time when CCP made all its efforts to stop ICH due to its anti-competitive nature but Ministry of IT approved the policy directive for implementation of ICH.

Based on directive issued by MoIT, PTA asked all LDI operators to suspend their Interconnection Circuits and that all international incoming voice traffic was to come through a single clearing house managed by PTCL.

All other LDI operators were to get their revenues from ICH based on their market share. PTCL was to get whooping 50% of the entire revenues and are considered as the ultimate beneficiary of the ICH.

All LDI operators, except than PTCL, suspended their LDI operations, marketing efforts or anything related to international incoming voice calls and started getting their hefty share without any effort.

At a time when there was no competition for international incoming telephony as ICH was left as only player to manage international incoming traffic, it charged international customers (mainly those Pakistanis living abroad) least 300 to 800% charges for per minute for calls made to Pakistan.

Government lied to the general public by saying that this increase in call charges will help Pakistani government through increase in tax-collection and that elimination of grey telephony will grow our national exchequer. We know that it was a lie and government dodged every Pakistani (with-in country and abroad) as LDI operators were only beneficiary of ICH.

Not to mention, Government lost revenues through decline in international incoming traffic and hence less tax-collection. APC revenues also declined due to same reason.

2 – Petition Against ICH Filed in Lahore High Court

With-in one month of its implementation, Brain Telecommunication of Lahore filed a petition in Lahore High Court by pleading that ICH was in gross violation of competition rules and requested that ICH should be suspended by reversing the MoIT’s policy directive.

3 – ICH Suspended by Lahore High Court

While hearing Brain Telecom’s petition, Lahore High Court Suspended ICH on October 25th, 2012 and reversed the policy directive of Ministry of Telecom and IT.

On December 3rd, 2012 PTA issued a directive asking all operators to withdraw from ICH.

LHC kept hearing the case.

During one hearing, the petitioner requested the court to direct PTA to ensure the charging of pre-ICH rates for international incoming calls. On Court’s direction, PTA asked all operators to charge pre-ICH rates for international incoming traffic, however, it never happened.

4 – Supreme Court Nullified LHC’s Decision and Reinstated ICH

Supreme Court of Pakistan On February 21st, 2013 nullified Lahore High Court’s earlier decision through which ICH was suspended.

Supreme court’s Lahore registry — after reinstating ICH — remanded back the ICH case to CPP (Competition Commission of Pakistan) by saying that Lahore High Court is not mandated to suspend ICH.

CCP was then asked to investigate the entire case and revert back to Supreme Court of Pakistan with its ruling over the issue.

5 – CCP Ended ICH, Imposed Heavy Fines on LDI Operators

As mandated by Supreme Court of Pakistan, in May 2013 Competition Commission of Pakistan decided against ICH and ordered its suspension.

Along with, CCP imposed a penalty of 7.5 percent of annual turnover on each of 14 LDI operator that were part of the agreement for violating section 4 of the Competition Act 2010.

6 – MoIT, PTA Suspends ICH

Based on decisions from CCP and directives from Supreme Court, on June 17th, 2014 MoIT withdrew from its earlier policy directive for formation of ICH and accordingly PTA directed all LDI operators to withdraw from ICH.

The effect was soon felt through major slump in share prices of LDI operators.

7 – Suspension of ICH Challenged in Sindh High Court

Soon (in July 2014) after the withdrawal of ICH, Red Tone and other LDI operators challenged MoIT’s withdrawal directive in Sindh High Court by pleading that Ministry of IT and Telecom issued the directive without consulting the LDI operators and pleaded that directive should be reversed.

8 – Supreme Court Decided Against Red Tone’s Petition and Suspended ICH

Yesterday, Supreme Court, decided the case against Red Tone’s petition and cancelled Sindh High Court’s stay on ICH and asked PTA to hold its ICH’s withdrawal directives.

9 – What Next?

With all this history, it isn’t a secret now that LDI operators illegally maintained ICH for such a long duration. They made countless billions by minting money from Pakistanis living abroad.

Now when Supreme Court — the highest possible judicial body in the country — has finally issued a directive against ICH, LDI operators will have to resort to some other technique to get ICH running, through ICH2 maybe. Who knows?

For now, ICH is suspended and any LDI operator is free to charge whatever rate they deem viable for international incoming traffic.

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


  • Saqib Hassan

    There will be no effect sooner coz Ldis will continue with same rate with mutual understanding.

  • Guest

    Typo??

  • Fake Persona

    typo??

    • Anonymous

      They will get stay order against this from Sindh High Court. J

      • Fake Persona

        Sindh H/C is subordinate to Supreme court, unless they change the Law, it can never overrule SC decision…

        • Patriotic

          This fucking CJ of Sindh High Court always supported this LDI Mafia…these LDI’s always approached to this cheap justice against any verdict by CCP and LHC to seek the relief…!!

  • Azi

    simple btao yar international incoming calls sasti hon ge ab k nai?

    • aamir7

      ho jani chiyey abb tu

      • Azi

        Chlain dakhty hain phr kia output naklta hai

  • Guest 147

    How did they carry SC orders like ban on Youtube Immediately? and how orders like ICH nullifying is delayed so long? The two faces of corruption :(

  • Azmat

    ICH did bring in a lot of money for all the LDIs. Guess where that money whent? It came to Pakistan, and would be used by these firms to pay their staff and to grow their business or related businesses.

    The only Pakistani diaspora that cannot afford to call Pakistan at the current rates are the predominant labor diaspora in the Middle East. A simple mechanism would have been to reduce the rates for these locations. There would be no complaints from them and the ICH could have continued, benefitting all.

    • aamir7

      Sorry but what you are saying is a bs. An illegal arrangement to support 14 companies only? Most of which are based out of Pakistan?

      Believe me you are misguided, and this is an illegal money collected by few hands only. You won’t be able to share a single example where this money was shared by Pakistanis, as referred by you.

      Pakistan in fact lost billions in taxes due to reduced international traffic.

      • Insider

        Well, out of the 8.8c per minute charged through ICH, 2.9c termed as APC for USF, directly went to the government, deducted at source. This 2.9c formed the USF fund, which was in billions of Rupees and was used by the present government in late 2013 to clear off the power companies circular debt at that time. This is authentic information and can be verified by respective government authorities/SBP. Sure, ICH was a monopoly, hurt free competition, and hurt overseas Pakistanis as well, and has been rightly dissolved, but facts should be kept straight.

    • eyescreaman

      Stifling competition has never benefited anyone. Look at ptcl, honda/Toyota Pakistan or imagine having only one telecom operator.

    • Anonymous

      Mr Azmat, all money was collected outside Pakistan and mostly goes to LDIs parent companies pockets. Pakistan lost millions of dollars, Ishaq Dar got very upset when he found NO remittances coming into Pakistan by those LDIs. National exchequer receives nothing.

      • Anonymous

        Mr Azmat, my two days back point of view endorsed yesterday by Anusha Rehman Minister of MoIT: http://nation.com.pk/national/28-Feb-2015/end-to-ich-to-swell-national-kitty-anusha

      • Insider

        Out of the 8.8c per minute charged through ICH, 2.9c termed as APC for USF, directly went to the government, deducted at source. This 2.9c formed the USF fund, which was in billions of Rupees and was used by the present government in late 2013 to clear off the power companies circular debt at that time. This is authentic information and can be verified by respective government authorities/SBP. Sure, ICH was a monopoly, hurt free competition, and hurt overseas Pakistanis as well, and has been rightly dissolved, but facts should be kept straight.

    • ICH FALOODA

      YE PAISA USF KI AYASHI K LIAY ISTIMAL HO RAHA HA. UNKAY SHAHANA JOBS REQUIREMENTS KO POORA KRNAY K LIAY. HBL TOWER K 3 FLOORS KA RENT HI 2.5 CORORE HA ANNUALLY.CEO KABI KABI OFFICE AA JATA HA.

  • Nasratullah

    Pakistan wake up stop the f$$$ing corruption move forward not backward. PPP, PML can’t help you only Allah can

  • Wasio Ali Khan Abbasi

    Thank you for the summary, it gave a good overview of the ICH history.
    Also, in 4th point, there is a typo. It should be CCP and not CPP.

  • golf

    Hahaha game over for ICh… now government AND Sc is against them. Nowehere to go… i just don’t know how long it will take to take effect it is just a mater of few days. But it will take effect for sure.

  • zee

    Nothing has ever changed and nothing will ever change in Pakistan. Once the prices go up, they stay that way.

    • golf

      Moit, pta and Sc is against and did withdraw Ich. I thought by myself that now nothing can come in the way of cheap overseas calling to Pakistan. But still nothing did happen… someone update??? How long it will take??

      • zee

        Like I said, nothing changes in Pakistan.

        • golf

          Inshallah Pk is not that bad… Government And SC ara against. Then they can’t stay do it as nothing happened. It s going to change. I only wanted to know hoe long it will taken GOlF

          • zee

            ^ WOW! I salute your positivity but honestly speaking, I’d be surprised if it changes. I do hope I am wrong!

            • golf

              let’s see if it doesn’t change NOW then u r right in pk nothing will change!!!

            • golf

              First company Lycamobile used to charge 9 euro cent per minute here in Netherland. Today it is 2 cent per minute. So, it is changing. I do not call pakistan just interest to follow things in PK. LEkin inshallah aap ke waha bhi rate main kammi aae ghi. Cheers!!!

  • Anower Q Tone

    Hi Dear friends i looking a direct LDI provider any body there add me plz on skype
    skype:amisuduamar
    Cell: 00971553784545