Controversy at ICT Research and Development

Posted on July 16, 2010
Filed Under >Babar Bhatti, Science and Technology
9 Comments
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Babar Bhatti

After much buzz in the press about conflicts between the IT Minister and certain members of ICT (Information and Communication Technology) R&D fund, government fired 6 directors of ICT R&D Fund directors last week. Allegedly these directors had mismanaged the funds. The controversy has shaken Pakistan’s academia and ICT industry. The ICT R&D Fund was created in 2007 with the goal of promoting ICT research and industry.

The funding for this program came from from telecom industry as a percentage of their revenue. The management consisted of representatives from government, industry and academia. Over the last few years, ICT RDF approved funding for many projects

The official web site (here) provides a list of the funded projects.

Financial support for National ICT R&D Fund Company is provided by the Federal Government which in turn collects the prescribed contributions from the relevant PTA licensees operating in the telecommunications domain including the Fixed Line Operators, Cellular Operators and Data Service Providers.

Unfortunately the site http://ictrdf.org.pk does not provide any details of the current members or reasons for the shake up.

On July 8th, these directors were fired:

Sikandar Naqi, SEVP PTCL (nominee of fixed line operators),
Zafar Usmani, COO China Mobile (nominee of cellular operators)
Wahaj us Siraj CEO Micronet Boradband/Nayatel (nominee of broadband operators)
Dr. Aamir Mateen, Country Manager Cisco Systems (representing IT Corporate Sector)
Dr. Sohail Naqvi, Executive Director HEC (representing Academia)
Prof Dr. Mansoor Sarwar, Punjab University (Academia).

Wahaj Siraj, a well-known personality in the ICT industry of Pakistan, has been vocal in explaining his point of view and he has written at online forums and shared his side of the story in blog comments. Here‘s an excerpt.

The six Independent Directors, three from telecom operators who are the actual contributor to the fund and three from Academia/Corporate Sector were selected after a transparent nomination process from all telecom operators and the Universities. Khosa, being chairman of the fund, has no special powers to remove any of the Director but he being a trigger happy person has issued a notification to ‘denotify’ the Independent Directors in total violation and disregard to the laws, rules and regulations.

Mr. Siraj also asks the question that:

If Board members have done alleged corruption, then why not all 10 Board members have been removed? It’s not rational to assume that only six directors from private sector/academia were responsible for alleged corruption while others had no role.

The matter would soon be referred to a court of law. It is sad that an organization which was created to support ICT research and entrepreneurship in Pakistan has become entangled in politics. As with other institutions, it will be hard to repair the damage that this controversy has caused. However it is important that all matters are investigated thoroughly and the facts are shared with public.

References:
1. Telecompk
2. Dawn news
3. Samaa TV
4. The Daily News
5. ProPakistani

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9 responses to “Controversy at ICT Research and Development”

  1. live psl says:

    This is good information for me Ahmad Shakeel

  2. Mohammad Aslam says:

    Pakistan has no future. it is a place of low quality and inferior genes people. they cannot run anything.

  3. Multiple News says:

    I do agree with author. Very nicely written post.

  4. Rashid Ali says:

    When independent professionals do some thing like this it makes you wonder where does our future lies? Let the courts look into this matter and a new board must contiue R&D work.

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