PTA’s member enforcement assures adherence to PM’s directions

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) member enforcement has finally assured the Prime Minister (PM) that his directions regarding the exercise of PTA chairman’s authority will be adhered to, it was learnt reliably.

PM Abbasi while taking serious notice of exercising the authority of PTA chairman by member enforcement of the authority has earlier stopped PTA’s member enforcement from exercising the authority of chairman and declared the orders given by member enforcement after the retirement of former PTA chairman as illegal.

Upon this, now member enforcement has assured obedience to the directions of PM regarding the exercise of authority and also raised likely non-functioning of the authority.

“The directions of the Prime Minister conveyed through cabinet division letter as mentioned above will be adhered to. Undersign will not exercise the administrative powers so far exercised under section 3(10) of the Pakistan Telecommunication (Re-Organisation) Act 1996. However, this may result in non-functioning of the authority as it will affect day to day as well as other regulatory functions of the authority and the telecom sector, “said Member Compliance and Enforcement Abdul Samad in a letter sent to the Cabinet Division with a subject exercise of authority by any member, vested in the chairman Pakistan Telecommunication Authority.

Sources in telecom sector said that member enforcement has given assurance because, with effect to PM’s directions, the orders/acts, especially transfers, postings and appointments so far made by the member and senior officials of PTA while exercising the authority of chairman were declared as null and void.

Cabinet Division Additional Secretary in a letter informed the member enforcement that “The prime minister has been pleased to direct that any exercise of authority by any member, vested in the chairman PTA without approval by the competent authority, i.e. Prime Minister, will be illegal and acts therein will be void ab-initio.”

A copy of the Cabinet Division’s letter with Pakistan Today discloses the Division’s advice for PTA to withdraw the orders issued by the Authority particularly after the expiry of the tenure of office of former chairman.

“It is advised to withdraw and review orders issued without lawful authority after the expiry of the tenure of office of former PTA chairman,” said Cabinet Division’s letter dated January 3, 2017.

It is relevant to mention that PTA currently has only one active member, Member Enforcement Abdul Samad, as PM Abbasi has rejected the extension of former chairman Dr Ismail Shah and member finance Tariq Sultan. Furthermore, member enforcement has so far been exercising the authority of chairman on his own without getting any notification from the federal cabinet.

Taking cognizance of the matter, Cabinet Division had earlier also declared the orders so far taken after the expiry of tenure former PTA chairman by senior officials of Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) as illegal. The division also advised PTA to withdraw the orders issued by the authority, particularly after the expiry of the tenure of office of former chairman.

However, Abdul Samad Khan continued exercising the authority, which he was not empowered to, said sources familiar with the matter.

Sources said that though PTA lacks the quorum and has become dysfunctional, however, senior officials have used the powers to run the day to day affairs of PTA. Besides that, many postings and appointments on lucrative slots were made at a time when PTA only had one member out of the three, sources added.

It is worth mentioning that Ministry of Law and Justice had earlier issued an official memorandum on February 4, 2013, when asked regarding the powers of the authority entrusted to the PTA chairman.

“In view of the foregoing, it is clarified that PTA members cannot exercise the powers of the chairman, relating to administration and staff of the authority under section 3 (10) of the Pakistan Telecommunication (Re-Organisation) Act, 1996,” read the letter of Law and Justice Ministry.

It also said that a member can only exercise such power if he has been appointed chairman of the authority by the federal government, under Section 3 (3) of the Act.

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Ahmad Ahmadani
The author is a an investigative journalist at Profit. He can be reached at [email protected]
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