The Pakistan government has been making a lot of noises over the years about attracting IT companies to set up shop in Pakistan. It is somewhat akin to to the old story of the seven blind men feeling up an elephant and trying to guess what it is – then killing the beast by chopping it up and selling of whatever little bits of it they could grasp. Those in the know – i.e people in the real world who actually are active in the field look on the actions of the assorted Pakistani Ministries of IT in horror.
The latest Dilbertesque incident to take place by the assorted clowns in the Pakistan govt. dealing with the IT sector is the raid of a local Pakistani software company in Islamabad, and the arrest of it’s CEO on Dec 4, 2006. As I write this, the poor chap is still in jail, and the raided equipment has not yet been returned. The “whole story is posted here”:http://www.pkblogs.com/wheelofjustice/, and of course is banned by the idiots that be, so it is only accessible through a proxy from Pakistan. The company was wrongfully accused of terminating VOIP calls in Pakistan – not only was the company not doing anything of the sort, but the PTA itself had determined that it’s legal to do so anyways – way back in Jan 03!
Cogilient had _a detailed meeting with Gen. Shahzada (chairman) and his team at PTA. After confessing by the Director who conducted the raid himself, Mr. Sajjad Awan, that the raid and arrest of Faisal was a mistake, General agreed for withdrawal of the case immediately._ They were promised a letter withdrawing the case – but the next day refused to issue it. Soon after this, the General jetted of to India, while the CEO remains in Jail.
!http://bp0.blogger.com/_bAoegoGZ2kE/RYEPYH5RtwI/AAAAAAAAAAU/MgEAWUskpdw/s320/DSC00221.JPG! In order to get the innocent incarceration of the CEO ended from FIA custoday, the friends of Faisal and Cogilent organized a protest rally in Islamabad in front of the Ministry of Information Technology. The state of affairs in the local industry can be summed up in the following statement:
bq. In response to the protest, PTA decided to go on a smear campaign and published various press releases attacking the company and its activities.
A former employee of the company wrote on the “Perils of technological advancement in Pakistan”:http://www.sajjadzaidi.com/2006/dec/perils_of_technological_advancement_in_pakistan, after which he got a call from the “authorities”:http://www.sajjadzaidi.com/2006/dec/perils_of_technological_advancement_in_pakistan/#comments:
bq.. Just to go on record, I got a call about an hour ago from a very short number, usually reserved for intelligence or military organizations.
The person was asking some weird questions about my blog, but didn’t say who he was. I better shift this website to some place out of reach of the authorities.
p. A day later, he had shifted his site outside of Pakistan. Sadly, the standard advice I always give people on hosting websites is to make sure they’re out of reach of the Pakistani authorities, and this incident only reinforces the need to do so. One would think the “Pakistani govt. blocking 50 odd million websites”:http://pakistan451.wordpress.com/ would serve to make people take notice that Pakistan is not a very IT friendly country, but not too many people outside the country know this. If they can block 50 million sites, whats one more to them? What do the foreign investors the PTA is inviting to open up shop in Pakistan think of all this? Does the PTA ever bother to think? Perhaps the real question is if they are they even capable of thinking?
As is evident from the PTA’s statement below, they are clearly incapable of rational thought:
bq.. “Besides, it is evident from the facts and figures of telecom sector that PTA has always encouraged both local and foreign investors to invest in the telecom related business and facilitated them in every possible manner,” said a PTA statement on Tuesday. _by raiding their offices and arresting them? or by bocking their websites?_
It said the PTA always conducted raids against illegal operations on solid evidence and through monitoring of the suspected facility as per law. _this would be funny if it wasn’t so tragic, especially for those languishing in jail after being wrongfully accused by the government_
p. Italics mine. At a minimum, the Minister of IT along with the heads of the PTA should resign, and issue a public apology. Nothing short of that makes up for what they’ve done. More updates to follow as the case drags on.
Dec 17, 2006: Minister orders release of Faisal “#”http://sajjadzaidi.com/2006/dec/minister_orders_release_of_faisal/. As of Dec 20, it looks like despite the Minister’s intervention, it’s still going to take a week before Faisal is out of jail.
* “PTA notification allowing IP telephony in 2003”:http://i16.tinypic.com/2cq1jdf.gif