Etisalat Warns Govt Against Granting License to SCO

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Etisalat has reportedly warned the government of Pakistan that it will move to at an international court  if it allows the Special Communication Organization (SCO) to operate throughout the country on a commercial basis.

Well placed sources revealed that Etisalat has conveyed to the Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication that as per the shareholder agreement, no government-backed operator would be brought into competition.

However, if the government allows SCO to operate in the whole country, it would be considered a violation of the agreement as well as international commitments. In case this happens, Etisalat reserves the right to move an international court to resolve the issue, sources privy to the development revealed on Thursday.

Sources further said that according to the Law Division’s interpretation, there is no issue if a license is allowed to the SCO. However, neither the IT Ministry nor the other stakeholders are in favor of allowing SCO to operate throughout the country on a commercial basis.

The amendments proposed by the SCO to enhance operations throughout Pakistan were principally disagreed upon by Ministry of Information Technology. They believe that:

it is against the stated policy of the government, international commitments and other commercial agreements in the telecom regime.

A meeting of the Sub-Committee of the Committee on Delegated Legislation of Senate – held on December 8th 2017 – discussed the issue of enhancement of SCO’s area of operation in the light of opinion by the Ministry of Law and Justice. But the Committee deferred discussion due to absence of officials from Law and Justice Ministry and directed them to ensure their presence in the next meeting.

The meeting is scheduled for Friday (today) again to discuss the matter.

The sub-committee was formed to consider the proposed amendments to the Telecommunications Reorganization Act 1996, allowing the SCO to enhance its areas of operations throughout Pakistan.

The sub-committee had asked the ministry and the SCO to settle the matter and prepare a report. However, the two sides could not come to an agreement during the last eight months.

SCO is a public sector organization working under the ministry of IT. It was established in 1976 to develop, operate and maintain telecom services in Azad Jammu Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan.

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