GILGIT (Dawn): The people of Gilgit-Baltistan have been left high and dry as the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has not allowed launch of 3G and 4G internet facilities in the region.
According to the licence description available on the PTA website, mobile companies have been asked not to provide Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Jammu and Kashmir the next generation mobile service (NGMS), as PTA considers the two regions outside of Pakistan.
PTA’s licence description for different NGMS modes states that the licensee is to establish, maintain and operate the licensed system and to provide NGMS in Pakistan, excluding AJK and GB.
It states that licensee shall provide NGMS, including the mandatory services, throughout Pakistan except AJK and GB. It further says that the license does not authorise the provision of telecommunication services in AJK and GB.
The decision has attracted criticism by the GB people, particularly students, of PTA. “The PTA decision shows that GB is not part of Pakistan and that the people of the region cannot have the right to avail the 3G and 4G facility,” said Fazal Abbas, who is doing MSc in economics at the Karakuram International University.
Talking to Dawn he said that a backward region like GB should not be deprived of the fastest internet facility which has been launched across Pakistan.
Sajjad Hussain, another student, said that the region had already been facing communication issues as Special Communication Organisation was the sole internet service provider in the area, which wasn’t satisfactory. “In this context, the decision of PTA has greatly disappointed us because we would be unable to get easy access to fastest internet for accomplishment of our research work,” regretted Mr Hussain.
Nadeem Ahmed, who is doing PhD at the KIU, said, “We were hoping that 3G and 4G services would help overcome internet speed issue in the region, but the PTA move has disappointed us”. He demanded of the concerned authorities to review the decision.
Mr Ahmed said that due to lack of internet service, students and employees of government and non-government organisations would face numerous issues.
Mohammad Arif, a local resident, said that the PTA decision to keep the people of GB deprived of basic facility amounted to discrimination against them. He pointed out that while mobile companies operated freely in the region, they were not allowed to extend 3G and 4G services to the people, which is violation of fundamental rights of the people.