National, provincial assemblies using mobile jammers illegally | Pakistan Today

National, provincial assemblies using mobile jammers illegally

The national and provincial assemblies are using mobile phone jammers in their secretariats illegally.
The federal government’s policy whereas requires the assembly secretariats to seek authorisation from the Inter Ministerial Committee (IMC) before installing jammers on their respective premises, the later appeared to have been using the devises without permission of the competent authority.
The matter came to the fore only when a number of cell phone operators approached the PTA complaining that their users living in adjoining areas of the national and provincial legislatures were facing connectivity-related problems.
“Some mobile companies approached us with complaints,” PTA spokesman Khurram Mehran confirmed to Pakistan Today.
The regulator, however, moved when the Frequency Allocation Board (FAB) too verified these complaints.
“We have informed them to seek permission of the Committee (IMC),” Mehran said, adding that the federal body was entitled to decide the fate of such jammers in accordance with their usage in specific areas and the technical issues related thereto.
“The jammers, under the federal government policy, are used with the permission of ICM,” the PTA spokesman said. And the PTA’s mandate is to refer the concerned stakeholders to the Committee, claimed Mehran.
However, official correspondence between the PTA and Assembly Secretariats, particularly that of Punjab, shows that the authority was coming hard on the legislatures which now are running from pillars to post to give a legal cover to the “illegal” usage of MPJs inside their premises.
“PTA Islamabad has raised objection on the use of mobile phone jammers and termed it as illegal,” the Punjab Assembly told the Sindh Assembly via letter number SA-1/Mobile Phone Jammer/2006/6330 dated the 24th of last month.
Titling “Use of Mobile Phone Jammers”, the letter shows that the Punjab Assembly also has contacted the secretariats of the National Assembly, Baluchistan Assembly and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly.
“I am directed to inform you that Punjab Assembly Secretariat has been using mobile phone jammers (MPJs),” reads the letter undersigned by Assistant Secretary Tehmina Tabish.
PTA, it said, had advised to seek “necessary authorization/permission” the IMC formed by the federal government in the context of national security.
“In view of the position explained above, you are requested to provide information and rules under which you are using mobile phone jammers,” the Sindh Assembly was asked.
Justifying the placement of MPJs in its premises, the Punjab Assembly contends, in the letter, that in a “very sensitive” and “dignified” area like provincial assembly the use of mobile phones was detrimental to legislative process.
“The most decent way of stopping the use of mobile phones is the installation of jamming device,” it said.
The Punjab Assembly refers to Rule 223(k) of the House’s rules of procedures, however, its Sindh counterpart quotes Rule 212 to justify the installation of jammers.
“Rule 212 authorises the speaker, as a custodian of the House, to order such measures,” said an official at Sindh Assembly.
Clause 1 of Rule 212 reads, “All matters not specifically provided for in these rules shall be regulated in such manner as the speaker may deem fit.”
Clause 2 reads, “Any decision taken, ruling given or direction issued by the Speaker in these rules shall not be called in question in any manner or on any ground whatsoever.”
Clause 3 of the same rule says, “No person shall comment upon or make any statement in press or otherwise in respect of ruling given or direction issued by the speaker.”
The official, seeking anonymity, said the jammers were being used on special directives of the Sindh Assembly speaker at present.
The lawmakers routinely tended to bring Iphones but lack of internet facility barred them from using the same.

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