ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Information Technology and Telecommunications Aminul Haque on Saturday said the government has asked ministries/divisions and attached departments to get the services of National Database Centre of National Telecommunication Corporation (NTC) to foil attempts of cyber attacks and data hacking.
He said the upcoming spectrum auction of two blocks is scheduled to be held on September 16, 2021 wherein all four major players of the mobile sector would participate, however, no foreign entrant so far showed its interest. He announced launching a new social media App known as “Beep”, which would be used only by employees and officials of the federal government in the first phase. The Establishment Division had barred federal government employees to use social media platforms such as WhatsApp in the wake of fears of leak of confidential information.
“We have written to all ministries/divisions in February 2021 that the NTC is providing foolproof data centre and in the aftermath of efforts to hack the FBR data, they will ask the ministries/divisions again to get services of the NTC because it provides a foolproof data safety mechanism,” Aminul Haque said while talking to reporters on the sidelines of the National Freelancing Conference 2021 organized by the PTCL in collaboration with other stakeholders at Bhurban on Saturday.
Top relevant sources told this scribe that cyber attacks were made in the range of 0.7 to 0.8 million on a daily basis, but Pakistan’s cyber security experts foiled such attempts. The FBR data centre at PRAL is not being run by NTC. He said there is the Cyber Emergency Response Team (CERT) that could foil any attempts being hatched by anyone. He said that they would write to ministries/divisions again to ensure cyber security through a 100 per cent foolproof mechanism placed by the NTC.
When asked about the upcoming spectrum auction of two blocks of 1800 MHz and 2100MHz, the minister said they had called four players of mobile companies last week and informed that the government resolved 70 per cent of their demands so they were quite confident that the mobile sector players would reciprocate through their participation in the upcoming spectrum auction.
The minister refused to reply when asked how much the government is expecting to fetch from this spectrum auction. However, the official sources said the government is expecting bidding over the base price so it is eyeing to attract anywhere between $800 million and $1 billion.
He also said the auction for additional spectrum in Azad Jammu & Kashmir (AJK) and Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) regions would be done by the end of the ongoing month. The mobile companies have been told to improve their service quality across the country, otherwise the ministry will start issuing notices and imposing fine on them.
The conference was organised by the Pakistan Software Export Board (PSEB), which was attended by the country’s leading freelancers and IT professionals.
Haque announced that the target of $3 billion has been set for the freelancers to bring in remittances from the export of IT services in the next three years. They had fetched $370 million. He said he is against banning TikTok as the best way is to find out solution through negotiations. He said he had openly opposed 75 paisa tax on phone calls exceeding 5 minutes and some mechanism would be sorted out to abolish its imposition.
The freelancers from across Pakistan including interior Sindh, Balochistan and GB participated in the conference, while the three main issues faced by them were internet connectivity, receiving remittances and taxation problems.
“You are the future, IT freelancers can achieve what the governments cannot do, you can work remotely from your homes and earn between $500 and $5000 per month. I also urge women to come forward in this field,” the minister said.
Meanwhile, addressing the conference, Barkan Saeed, chairman of Pakistan Software Houses Association, said the country is facing serious shortage of skilled human resources and IT educational institutes are not providing relevant qualifications.
During the conference, it was assessed that Pakistan requires an additional 40,000 skilled IT professionals on an annual basis. There is a need to scale up work of freelancers, as they should convert themselves into entrepreneurs, said Sunny, a renowned freelancer who added that without scaling up, the desired objective could not be achieved.
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The reference was filed by the Election Commission of Pakistan in November