Blog on Internet Facilities in AJK and Developments

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Engr Tabish Abbasi
While the world is heading towards 5G – People of the state of Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan (GB) still looking for basic internet facilities . Even there are several areas in both – AJK and GB , where people don’t even have facility of mobile networks for calls etc. But , there are some good news regarding internet facility to the people of AJK and GB as application were invited by Pakistan telecommunication Authority (PTA). As per promise by Federal Minister for Kashmir and GB Affairs Ali Amin Khan Gandapur , During Election campaigns in Azad jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit –the process for bidding for the next generation mobile services (NGMS) spectrum is initiated. All four cellular companies , which are operating in Pakistan , have submitted bids for the NGMS spectrum auction. Official Source from Pakistan telecommunication authority (PTA) told that PTA has received bids by four cellular companies operating in Pakistan – against both bands (1800MHz & 2100MHz).Four cellular companies which are interested are Telenor Pakistan, Pakistan mobile communication limited (PMCL / JAZZ) , china mobile Pakistan (CMPAK / ZONG) and the last one is Pakistan telecommunications mobile limited (UFONE) .Applications were invited from cellular companies for 30MHz paired in the 2100MHz and 1600MHz paired in the 1800MHz band for new technology in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) & Gilgit Baltistan (GB). As per information by PTA , via their information memorandum (IM) , last date to submit application forms and sealed bids with pre-Bid deposit was September 22 , 2021. Now, its upto PTA for method of selection of one of the companies – either selection could be done through announcement of qualified winners directly on September 23 , 2021 or digital auctioning on September 24 , 2021 (if and only if PTA can’t choose qualifier from group of applied companies ). On September 27 and 28 , 2021 – Mock clock auction of 1800MHz and 2100MHz will be held (if required) and then clock auction bidding respectively. People from AJK and GB are happy over this move by the government of Pakistan , PTA and all relevant authorities. It would be a milestone as both areas – AJK and GB were under high criticism on social media after outbreak of COVID’19 as even for online studies , students from AJK and GB were forced to live away from their homes due to unavailability of internet. Students , who were in AJK or GB , for their online classes they often need to go on high peaks , mountains etc. for better internet quality so they could get their online classes or exams. Employed people , also suffered a lot – for those who were working online often faced internet issues – forcing them to get away from their areas to the major cities where internet facilities were enough.Complaints were there on Prime Minister citizen portal by students about difficulties and issues they were facing for online classes – especially during online exams . Twitter trends were launched by Students of AJK , against worst internet facility in the region with the Hashtag (#ProvideinternetinAJK). Federal Minister for Kashmir and GB Affairs Ali Amin Khan Gandapur and Murad saeed faced criticism also during their election campaigns by the educated sect of AJK and GB. They promised to provide internet facilities to the people of AJK and GB on priority basis – and it seems like a dream coming true for people in AJK and GB. In 2018 , Peaceful Protest was also recorded by Youth Parliament AJK Chapter – under leadership of Mr Asad Qureshi (President YPP Then) and his team – against poor internet facilities in AJK (in general) and in Capital of AJK Muzaffrabad (in specific). Freelancer community of AJK and GB were also forced to reside in areas and cities with better internet quality – Freelancer from AJK , Mr Shakeel ur Rehman told that “ we can’t even go to our homes for 3-4 days due to poor or no internet facilities there in my native village (KUNA) , chinari , jehlum valley AJK . As on freelancing sites , Your rating matters a lot and rating usually depends upon your time to response any query or to accept orders from different customers and time efficiency required. With present internet facilities in AJK , You can’t even make calls (audio / video) on whattsapp , messanger etc many times. But ,recent development as applications were invited by PTA , seems future would be better than present.” Another citizen , Student of Mirpur university of science and technology , Mirpur AJK , Sardar Hasnat (Software Engineer) told his experience of the issues he faced during his online classes and exam. Hasnat told that even for online classes , he had to live in Mirpur AJK as internet in his native city , Kotli AJK wasn’t good enough for taking online classes and exams. Human Right Activist from GB , AB wahab Fakhar welcomed this step of Telecommunication authority and called this as “ Morning after long Dark years “ – He added , students of school and college would also get a better chance to get recognize with the technologies at very young age , it took 20+ years of our life and migration from GB – for our education and recognition with internet facility and diversity of online educational and learning opportunities. To conclude , one can say , Internet is like a basic HUMAN RIGHT in present age – if Right to information , right to education or freedom of speech are basic human rights , then the tool “ Internet” required for freely acquiring them is and foremost right of every Human.