Afghan Operators’ Signal Spillover Issue with Pakistan Still Unresolved

Pakistani officials raised the issue of GSM signal spillover of Afghani telecom operators into the border areas across Durand Line (Pakistan-Afghanistan border), however, an official reply from Afghan government is still awaited, said Chairman Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) Syed Ismail Shah.

Dr. Shah said that issue was simultaneously raised through General Headquarter (GHQ) and Foreign Office, however, Afghan counterparts are yet to reply on the matter.

Pakistan cannot bind Afghanistan to stop signal spillover across the border, however International Telecommunication Union (ITU) has recommended all the members countries to restrict phone signals to their territories, said Chairman PTA while briefing a parliamentary panel here on Friday.

The Sub-Committee of Committee on Delegated Legislation of Senate which met with Muhammad Daud Khan Achakzai in the chair expressed serious concerns over the phone signal spillovers from Afghanistan while terming it serious security threats.

Committee observed that in most terrorists’ cases in Pakistan it was traced that phone signals of Afghan telecom operators were used and that is why the whole matter was made part of the National Action Plan (NAP).

PTA chairman said that the issue was raised with Afghanistan on several occasions even through GHQ and Foreign office. Further it was discussed on the sideline of some international conferences where Afghan side verbally assured to address the issue, however, nothing measurable has happened as of yet.

PTA chairman further said that Pakistan-Afghanistan border is a wide area spanning several hundred kilometers and controlling signal spillover through jammers is almost impossible.

PTA chairman said that roaming services for Afghan SIMs in Pakistan have been blocked/stopped, meaning that no Afghan SIM will operate in Pakistan on roaming.

However, areas adjacent to borders — up to tens of kilometers — still have Afghan operators’ signals where such SIMs can operate normally.

The committee was also briefed on rules, regulations, notifications and SROs in pursuance of the existing Acts of the Parliament of Universal Service Fund.

Senator Kalsoom Parveen said that it was alleged that the Fund was utilized out of its mandate. The committee members also raised questions on overlapping of different laws; however, Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of USF said that there is no tussle or overlapping in the Acts and laws, hence facing no issues in this regard.

Rector Virtual University Naveed Malik briefed the committee on rules, regulations, notifications and SROs in pursuance of the existing Acts of the Parliament of the University. The committee raised serious questions over hiring employees on contract basis while saying that employees have not been given any protection.

Rector informed that there are 170 campuses of the University across the country while over 42000 students including 1900 overseas students are enrolled for various courses.

He further said that Planning Commission is considering opening 15 more campuses. The University is imparting education according to the latest technological era.


      • PTA chairman further said that Pakistan-Afghanistan border is a wide area spanning several hundred kilometers and controlling signal spillover through jammers is almost impossible.

        • But they can still install jammers at critical ingress points. Like the ones close to Pakistani cities in KPK and FATA. Half the Durand line is mountains anyway.

          • Would not that affect signals from Pakistani operators for the local populous there?

            Anyway we know why the Afghan operators do not do anything about the signal spillage, as it helps there Intelligence and RAW carry out remote operations using roaming on their networks.

            • They would. But a typical LEA-grade has an effective radius of about 2 km. How many Pakistanis live in such close proximity to the Durand line? Even if some do, it is all a matter of trade-offs. Would you a rather that a couple of thousand people be deprived from cellular service or a couple of thousand people be killed?

          • Have you seen the border? It’s not possible to do this there, would be very costly. Most areas don’t even have electricity!


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