NAB Withdraws Investigation, Boosting Prospects for Pakistan’s Telecom Industry
The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) recently officially closed its investigation against the former Chairman of the Pakistan Telecom Authority (PTA), Dr. Syed Ismail Shah, and other senior PTA officials. This marks a significant breakthrough in a case related to awarding Next Generation Mobile Service (NGMS) to the local telecom company Warid.
In an official letter to the PTA, NAB declared the conclusion of the investigation, signaling a positive turn for the telecom sector. The move has been met with approval from the telecom community, as many believe that the investigation, which had cast a shadow on PTA officials, was a major factor contributing to declining investments in the sector over the past few years. Some experts even attribute the delayed rollout of 5G in Pakistan to the prolonged inquiry.
The initiation of the investigation dates back to October 2018, when NAB Chairman, Justice Retired Javed Iqbal, approved proceedings against Anusha Rahman, former Minister for Information Technology, Ishaq Dar, former Finance Minister, and the then PTA Chairman Syed Ismail Shah, along with other senior PTA management.
Competent People Face Trials: A Dilemma in Pakistan
While all the accused in this controversial investigation maintain good reputations, Dr. Ismail Shah stands out as a highly respected figure in the telecom industry. Renowned across Asia for his extensive expertise in mobile and internet technologies, Dr. Shah’s achievements include leading spectrum auctions, launching 3G/4G services, and driving substantial growth in one of the world’s most competitive markets. His contributions internationally recognized, and he has awarded the GSMA Spectrum for Mobile Broadband Award in 2015. Beyond PTA, Dr. Shah played crucial roles in international telecommunications organizations, including the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Council and the Asia Pacific Telecommunity (APT), where he was elected Vice-President of the General Assembly. Before his tenure as PTA Chairman, Dr. Shah held a key technical management position in Pakistan’s Ministry of IT & Telecommunications as a Member of Telecom.
Despite these accolades, the case reflects a broader dilemma in Pakistan, where competent individuals sometimes face trials driven by vested interests that seek to tarnish their reputation for personal gain.
Prospects for the IT & Telecom Industry:
With the closure of the NAB investigation against Dr. Ismail Shah and other PTA officials, industry experts foresee positive developments for Pakistan’s Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector. Removing this regulatory cloud will attract increased investments, fostering growth and innovation.
This development could also pave the way for the much-anticipated decision to introduce 5G technology. The newfound confidence resulting from the withdrawal of the investigation is likely to create an optimistic environment, potentially renewing confidence in the industry and positively impacting the nation’s technological advancement.