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RAWALPINDI: The National Assembly Standing Committee on Information Technology and Telecommunication on Wednesday recommended awarding Next Generation Mobile Service (NGMS) licence to army-run Special Communication Organisation (SCO) to provide the service at country level.

The recommendation was given during the committee meeting at SCO headquarters near Race Course Park, which was chaired by MNA retired Captain Mohammad Safdar.

Mian Mohammad Farooq, Mehar Ishtiaq Ahmad, Shazia Mubashar, Zahra Wadood Fatemi, Shazia Sohail Mir, Engineer Dawar Khan Kundi, Shahjehan Muneer Mangrio and Ch. Muhammad Tufail attended the meeting. Senior officers from the Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication also attended the meeting.

The SCO officials informed the committee that the organisation was providing the cellular services to Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan and it wanted to expand the service to country-wide.

The committee was informed about the existing and future plans of the SCO and also functioning of the organization.

The committee was informed that the SCO was raised in July 1976 on the directions of the prime minister to provide communication facility in the Azad Jammu and Kashmir and the then Northern Areas and parts of the Tribal Territories, besides constructing and maintaining roads.

The SCO officials also informed the committee that the organisation was provided constitutional cover under section 40 of Pakistan Telecom (Reorganisation) Act 1996.

The committee was also briefed about the launching of NGMS in Gilgit-Baltistan. The officials said the organisation was also working in Fata and trying to get grant of necessary mandate spectrum and required funds to operate there.

The committee members were agreed to provide a chance to the state-run organisation to launch the service at country level and compete with other private organisations as per the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) policy.

They assured the organisation to play their role for the improvement of the state-run organizations development which would help the country.

They said that the service of SCO in Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan was better and it would provide better service nationwide also.

Retired Capt Muhammad Safdar said that the SCO should also come in the mainstream after proving its abilities in communications in the northern parts of the country especially hilly areas and it would get the licence for launching its service across the country.

PTI MNA Engineer Dawar Khan Kundi was of the view that the SCO was performing better in the hard areas while earning profit for the state and it should pay attention to the Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan exclusively.

However, he also agreed to award the licence for nationwide cellular service and said that it would be good change if the SCO will launch new service across the country.

He said there would be no harm in awarding it the licence.

Published in Dawn, July 13th, 2017