USF Declines to Launch Telecom Projects in AJK & GB

Universal Service Fund was established by the government of Pakistan and is the subsidiary of the Ministry of Information Technology and Telecom (MoiTT). The primary motive of the body is to promote the expansion of telecommunication services in under-served areas throughout the country. In a recent meeting with USF, the GB Chief Minister said that the domain of the USF should be expanded to Gilgit-Baltistan as soon as possible in order to improve internet connectivity in the region. However, USF refused to launch telecom projects in the regions of Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Jammu & Kashmir.

Reasons for not providing telecom services in GB & AJK

The reason they provided for the refusal is that the two regions are constitutionally not part of the country. Consequently, the cellular mobile companies could object to the utilization of the amount generated in that part of the country.

Furthermore, the IT and telecom minister Syed Aminul Haq proposed that the case should be forwarded to the law ministry to scrutinize if the USF Pakistan can utilize its funds in GB and AJK regions. The minister also said that the fundings granted to USF Pakistan were made by the companies operating in Pakistan. Thus, any of the four cellular companies could object to the spending of the amount in GB and AJK regions.

In addition to that, the telecom minister also said an alternative option is to amend the related laws. This would enable the USF to operate as an agent for GB and AJK councils and implement their projects from the fund contributed by four telecom operators and SCO.

Apart from that,  the meeting was told that the Punjab forest department, Cholistan Development Authority, Kirthar National Park, Sindh, and other authorities were not providing NOCs for the installation of telecom towers in the respective regions.

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