SCO and PTA’s License Debate Picks up Heat in NA Committee Meeting

The military-run Special Communication Organization (SCO) on Wednesday clarified that it would neither be able to pay back the $46 million borrowed from the Exim Bank for fiber optic cable, nor monitor the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project if not granted the Long Distance International (LDI) license to operate across the country.

At present, SCO is restricted to operate only in Azad Jammu Kashmir (AJ&K) and Gilgit Baltistan (GB) and has applied for LDI license to enhance its operations across the country. However, Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication is against the grant of LDI license claiming it is against the agreement with Etisalat and fears huge penalty in case the latter goes to the court for arbitration. Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has claimed that codal formalities were not fulfilled for the said license.


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The representative of the SCO showed his concerns during the meeting of the Senate sub-committee on Delegated Legislation while saying that delaying tactics are being used in granting the LDI license, resulting in huge loss to the national exchequer. During the last four to five years, revenue of around Rs 4 billion was lost due to delay in license approval, claimed the representative.

He also threatened to go to court if the the LDI license is not granted. He stated that if SCO is entrusted with exclusive rights to operate in AJ&K and GB, then why do Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL) and other companies operate there. It is violation by the PTA, he added.

The committee met with Kalsoom Perveen in the chair, due to the absence of convener Muhammad Duad Khan Achakzai, to discuss the issue of SCO’s area of operation in light of opinion by the Attorney General of Pakistan and Ministry of Law and Justice.


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Member Enforcement and Director General (DG) Law of Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) maintained that SCO is not fulfilling the legal/codal formalities as published in the Information of Memorandum (IM) and hence progress on its application is stalled.

Issues in Interpretation

SCO representative said that on May 29, 2014, a comfort letter was issued by the PTA on SCO’s application for the license then how can it say now that SCO is not fulfilling its legal formalities. If there were any other requirements, PTA must inform SCO and the latter will complete those, but raising questions on the application after such a long time is questionable.

PTA official said that the letter was issued by Director License without the approval of the DG Legal Affairs. He further said that PTA and SCO have different interpretation of the Act; hence PTA will draft its question and send for legal opinion to Law Ministry.

SCO officials maintained that Ministry of Law and Justice and Attorney General of Pakistan have also stated that there is no issue in granting the license. However, PTA objected that Ministry of Law and Justice and Attorney General of Pakistan gave their opinion on another question and not on PTA’s stance.

The convener as well as the PTA officials raised questions that even though SCO admits it is not coming into competition, then what would be the purpose of the LDI license. SCO official said that they are committed not to go for fixed line service.

The chairperson said that the committee has listened and noted the points of all the sides and asked for the availability of Attorney General and Law Ministry to give a final decision on February 9 in this regard.


  • dan

    nice informative column…keep it up

  • Imad Memon

    Thanks for very comprehensive and factual reporting.

    • Umair

      Why PTA could not conduct bi-annual market assessment till now?
      What about the other companies who have applied for LDI license?

      • Imad Memon

        It’s done. MOIT is being apprised about it. The routine processing of LDI applications may start soon.

  • Mudassar

    There is no forum to address issues of the victims of Sco ( people of Kashmir ). We dnt have 3G and 4 G services we dnt have good or reasonable broadband services

    • Usman

      MoIT as they issue policy directives for licensing. I think they have not issued policy directive and depriving people of AJK from 3G and 4G services.

  • Eli Ehsan

    Yes “Boys” this country is whole heartily behind you (& your money making ways)… let’s get ’em. (like you always do with bleddy civilians)….. ;)

  • Azadar Hussain

    PTA opposition to grant SCO LDI Licence enabling SCO to operate across Pakistan including Gwadar on the flimsy assumption of Etisalat going to the court is not understood .Leaving aside said discussion ,I wish PTA to have a look on the poorest services being provided at Gwadar by PTCL & other GSM operators ,specially CPEC areas/routes .These Operators due to Finacial & Security concerns are not ready to even enter /invest .Same is the case in AJK & NAs ,where other operators have only gone in the areas ,where there are Financial returns are immediately available . Isuggest SCO must be granted LDI Licence to work across the country .If there are any legal issues ,it is not PTA to decide .It is the Prerogative of the Courts to Interpret .Contararily ,to avoid further delays SCO should take up the case with Islamabad High Court to safe guard Public Interests .Azadar