GILGIT: The Ministry of Information Technology and Telecom in Islamabad is being blamed for delays in the in the extension of third generation (3G) and fourth generation (4G) wireless mobile telecommunications services to Gilgit-Baltistan.
Nearly two million residents of the region are deprived of the facility, which is vital to truly participate in the information technology age.
“The system is in place and is awaiting a green signal to start service from the federal ministry,” said a senior official, blaming the ministry for the unusual delay that has added to the frustrations of the educated youth in the region.
“Chief Minister Hafeezur Rehman held numerous meetings with the minister over the past few months, but all in vain,” the official told The Express Tribune while requesting anonymity as he wasn’t authorised to talk to the media.
In G-B, internet connectivity is provided by the Special Communication Organisation (SCO) — a public sector organisation established in 1976 to develop, operate and maintain telecom services in Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan. It is working under the Ministry of IT and is managed by the Pakistan Army.
“G-B is a region that attracts tourists, but the government seems adamant not to extend facilities here,” said tour guide Riaz Khan.
In September last year, SCO Sector Commander Colonel Imran Butthy told the media that 3G and 4G services would start at the beginning of 2017.
“Federal government approval is awaited. Operations would begin soon after it is received,” he said.
G-B government spokesman Faizuallah Faraq admitted that the regional government was awaiting permission from the information technology ministry. “The plan was to inaugurate the service during Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s visit to the region,” Faraq told The Express Tribune. “But the PM’s visit was cancelled and now we are just waiting for the start of service,” said Faraq referring to a meeting with the SCO chief in G-B.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 18th, 2017.
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