ISLAMABAD, Nov 6: A move by the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority to install an international telecom traffic filter is also a counter-insurgency measure that will help the government to keep a watch on phone calls from abroad, PTA Chairman Farooq Awan has said.

According to him, calls of over 30 million minutes were received each day and routed to receivers from landline and GSM mobile phone operators.

He said installation of the filter was linked to counter-terrorism measures to check illegal communication taking place among unknown telephone users who could not be traced earlier because of ‘grey traffic’.

The step, he said, was aimed at supporting the government in every initiative and would be of help not only in revenue generation but also in curbing crimes and terrorism.

“Previously, millions of telephone users across Pakistan were seeing local numbers on their cellphones while receiving calls from abroad. This is one obnoxious way of grey telecom since the traffickers have systems installed inside Pakistan, bypassing the national telecommunication security grids meant to monitor international traffic,” he said.

According to an expert, the grey traffic comprises international calls facilitated by contracted people in the country. The calls are received by end-users through illegal communication servers installed by local contractors.

The PTA chairman said: “The international telecom traffic monitor will help government agencies to trace every call.”

A counter-insurgency official said calls from unknown international users used to be traced earlier but once the grey traffic system was used the calls could not be traced properly because a local caller number was generated.

Commenting on a recent surge in international telecom revenue, Mr Awan said: “We have generated $62.9 million in foreign exchange.”

All the GSM, long distance international (LDI) and wireless operators route their traffic through an international clearing house (ICH) at fixed rates set by the PTA.

The PTA chief said the LDI operators would now pay an additional $11.5 million in taxes because of the clearing house set up at the international gateway exchange in Karachi. “However, in October the revenue dipped to $25 million because the revenue from the ICH could not be generated since the issue was taken up by a court. Our legal officials are following the matter in the court,” he said.