By Abrar Mustafa
ISLAMABAD: Information and Technology Secretary Naguibullah Malik has said that there is no ‘turf war’ between him and Adviser to Prime Minister on IT Sardar Abdul Latif Khosa, as their roles are different.
Talking to The News regarding Khosa’s statement appeared in The News on July 23, he said it was his professional duty to ensure efficiency and transparency in the Information Technology Ministry, being its administrative head.
“Since my assumption of charge as the IT secretary on May 19, 2009, I have tried to establish high standards of professionalism and there are some success stories. However, I am neither responsible nor can I give comments on the action taken prior to my posting,” he said, adding: “I can safely say that despite some deficiencies and capacity issues, the ministry is in the right gear to meet challenges”.
He said information with regard to the USF and ICT R&D Fund companies was available at www.usf.org.pk and www.nictrdf.org.pk. “At present, activities being undertaken by the IT Ministry and its attached organisations are strictly in accordance with the given legal and policy parameters, and open to any kind of scrutiny,” the IT secretary added.
An official of the ministry, however, said Adviser Khosa acted in an arbitrary and whimsical manner. “He wanted his orders implemented forthwith, without any check or hindrance. However, the IT secretary insisted on going by the book,” the official added.
Since most of the adviser’s decisions were in conflict with the legal-cum-administrative framework; therefore, their implementation was widely resisted. “The IT Ministry is responsible for the policy formulation and the PTA is the regulator and it functions under the administrative control of the cabinet secretariat.” The official said both entities had to adopt investor-friendly policies, as the IT and Telecom sector contributed towards the economic growth of the country, as Pakistan was a known IT and Telecom investment destination.
The adviser went wrong in targeting the multinational telecom investor companies, unnecessarily, without realising their importance and the fact that the ministry is driven by the private sector entities.
The companies contribute their share of profits to the USF fund and National ICT R&D fund companies, which is the basic financial resource of the companies.
Besides, they are deeply involved in expansion of telephony and broadband connectivity in the country.
The official said because of the adviser’s behaviour and attitude, some companies had put things ‘on the hold’. “The adviser could not comprehend the dynamics of the IT and Telecom industry, and annoyed every one in the process. His tenure would always be identified with a logjam, which prevailed in the IT Ministry during his six-month stay,” he added.
“The allegations levelled by Khosa against Wahajus Siraj are not only false, but bizarre as well. The Internet Service Provider Association of Pakistan (ISPAK) has always been a strong advocate of Internet content filtering software and even helped the government in 2003 to develop the technical specifications and details for such a software, but the IT Ministry, then headed by Awais Leghari, and the PTA backed out from getting that software developed.”
The ISPAK has documentary evidence of all previous letters. Its recent press briefing was related to counter the anti-Pakistan propaganda of Fox News for ranking the country as number one in Internet porn searches, something that was duty of Mr Khosa and his ministry.
But since the government did not bother countering insult of the country and its people by a foreign TV channel, the ISPAK came forward to present the facts to the media, again nothing related to the content filtering software.
“Actually Khosa is infuriated because illegally ‘denotified’ directors of R&D Fund first refused to appoint his brother-in-law as CEO and then approached the high court for seeking justice,” the official added.