Pakistan Universal Service Fund in trouble?


Posted by on May 31, 2010  /  19 Comments

Just a few weeks ago, we highlighted that the Pakistan Universal Service Fund was an exception to the rule of poorly performing USFs that were good at collecting money, but were terrible at spending intelligently. Looking back, there were two reports, not one. The above was written by an Indian journalist. The one written by a Thai journalist went into greater depth, partly because he created a debate between me and the CEO of the Pakistan Fund.

Not withstanding, it appears that the Minister wants to drag down the Pakistan Fund to the level of its dysfunctional peers. And for what?

On same grounds, minister is in clash to slash down CEO of USF, which has proved to be the best operating USF in the world and is being used as a benchmark by other countries (incidentally it is the best operating part of the Ministry).

There is no doubt that Minister is following the rules and making all these changes in accordance to the law, but one may argue, why would he not renew the contracts of those who have done brilliant jobs in their respective departments?

Ah, my beloved South Asia, why do we shoot own goals?

19 Comments


  1. Its very sad that none of the beneficiaries of USF (telecom operators) are doing anything to either save the fund or its structure. Secretary IT & Telecom Division initially shown some resistance but he also reportedly surrendered last evening. Now its Mr. Khosa and 50 billion rupees (lets not forget he was removed from Attorney General office last year on corruption charges).

  2. As an external observer, I think the tone of the article is prejudice!

    Wish to look at a balanced point of view on this matter.

  3. Rohan Samarajiva

    I did not write the original article. Suggest Mr Bassam complain to them. If he can point me to a more balanced article I will link to it too. Or he can balance it by writing a comment that justifies the firings. We will not delete the comment.

    I am prejudiced against universal service funds. I have been persuaded that the Pakistan USF is well performing. Part of the reason it is performing well is the people in charge. So if the Minister is firing them, I have to say that he is dragging it down to the level of the other USFs.

    I can be wrong; if I am, I will publicly apologize. I am pretty confident I will not have to.

  4. @ Bassam,

    Kindly note that Rohan has reproduced text from an article written by Mr. Salamn Ansari who is a telecom expert in Pakistan and was Advisor to Minister for IT & Telecom from 2001 to 2003. He was involved in shaping the Pakistan’s ICT sector and its very painful to him and others in similar position to see what is going on now.

    Please go through the whole article at ProPakistan and see all the comments especially the proceedings before Senate Committee on IT written by “xtreame”. I hope those comments would give you a “balanced view point”. Comments are mostly from industry and so far no one has defended Mr. Khosa because probably no one can.

    Knowing Mr. Khosa, I am afraid very bad days are coming for ICT sector in Pakistan.

  5. Universal Service Fund is Pakistan’s one among the very few public institutions that have earned domestic and international respect. It is being credited for transparently and effectively disbursing the fund to connect the unconnected. Anti-USF advocates, including Rohan, often refers to Pakistan as an exception. Replacing this outfit’s competent hierarchy with politically subservient individuals hurts public interest. Therefore, a public interest litigation (PIL) may be filed to stop the madness. Pakistan’s judiciary is revered for prudence. All it needs is a petitioner.

  6. Finally we have version of Mr. Khosa in a news story published today in a Pakistani newspaper and can be viewed here:
    http://www.thenews.com.pk/top_story_detail.asp?Id=29239

    Rohan, as expected even after Mr. khosa’s version, you dont have to apologize.

  7. So beheading the USF is all about installing the minister’s bother-in-law who is, in fact, an academic outlaw armed with a pirated PhD!

  8. Finally we have full version of the Minister @: http://www.thenews.com.pk/daily_detail.asp?id=243516

    Following two paras of the news item are reflective of whats coming to USF and the ICT Sector in Pakistan in new future:

    “To the question that the USF is a registered company and is run by its board of directors (BoD), Khosa responded angrily and harshly. He said: “The BoD is nothing, and I am everything. Look, I am the minister in charge. Everything and everyone in the IT Ministry is under me. What do you mean by the board of directors? I can do anything. I can change the directors who do not follow my orders. Directors are supposed to follow my orders; otherwise, they will have to go home.”

    “A senior ministry official, during a conversation with The News on Thursday, said that if the control of this strategically important ministry was handed over to politicians with personal or party interests, it would not only inflict huge loss to the national revenue but will also damage a big national IT infrastructure installed after decades of hard work by the nation’s cream of technical experts in the field.”

  9. Sue him.

  10. I agree with Mr. Abu Saeed Khan, all we need is a petition coming in from a source that the judiciary may take serious.
    I had mentioned about the minister in my views on this at my blog and I again say it here that I fail to understand that how does a person not from a technical background but coming from law-side, having served as a attorney general and removed from this designation for corruption allegations on him fit to the position of PM’s Advisor for IT and minister in-charge. *sigh*
    We definitely have others more eligible for this position and not only lead the vision for technology in Pakistan but take it to new fronts.

  11. Finally Mr. Khosa is fired yesterday by Prime Minister. Now Prime Minister would be Minister-in-Charge of Ministry of IT and Mr. Khosa would only be Advisor to PM.

  12. Will Mr Khosa still exert his malefic influence through the non-Ministerial post? The true test will be if the high-performing CEO’s contract is renewed forthwith and an announcement to that effect made. My understanding is that the Board already voted for the renewal; Mr Khosa was the only nay vote. Now he’s out. The decision should be implemented.

  13. Another breaking news: Mr. Khosa resigned from his Advisory position also. Now he is totally out of scene.

    http://www.jang.com.pk/jang/jul2010-daily/20-07-2010/u39145.htm

  14. Pakistan has regained its moral authority in the regional telecoms sphere. Congratulations for taking such a great leap forward to good governance without external intervention!

    1. Too soon to congratulate Pakistan. Let’s see what they do in terms of renewing the contract of the CEO and letting the organization function as designed. Then we will sing their praises.

      1. Apparently Mr Khosa’s loyalty matters too much. President has not accepted his resignation as Advisor.