Pakistan to render technical assistance to Azerbaijan in state introduce deregulation in its monopolistic telecom sector

Pakistan agreed on Thursday to provide technical input and expertise to Azerbaijan to help the Central Asian state introduce deregulation in its monopolistic telecom sector. The announcement was made after a recent meeting of the ministers for communications and information technologies of the two countries.

Azerbaijan had sought Pakistans help in the backdrop of our gains in the telecom sector and we have agreed to provide them whatever technical assistance and input they want to deregulate their telecom sector, Minister for Information Technology Awais Ahmad Khan Leghari said after a meeting with Azerbaijans Minister of Communication and Information Technologies Ali Abasov.

Both the ministers discussed ways to enhance bilateral cooperation with a particular focus on close collaboration in the telecom sector and establishment of optic fibre links between the two countries.

Pakistan offered to send a technical delegation to Azerbaijan to arrange consultative workshops with stakeholders for policy- making and regulation in the telecom sector.

The Azeri minister also offered Pakistan to be part of a land- based submarine cable system which his country was keen to start in association with neighbouring countries including Turkey, Georgia and Iran.

Mr Leghari said Pakistan could be part of the existing trans- Asian-European cable or any other consortium being planned by Azerbaijan. However, the usage rates being charged for traffic on TAE were highly expensive for the operators which would instead prefer using the two submarine cables Pakistan was already linked to.

Mr Abasov said his country realised the cost issues involved in TAE cable with its over 90 per cent capacity still unutilised due to unbearable costs.

Azerbaijan is negotiating with countries including Turkey, Georgia, Ukraine and Russia and hopefully the cost issues would be resolved soon, he said.

Azerbaijani minister started a visit to Pakistan on 20 February to participate in the 12th General Assembly of the permanent Commission of the Organization of Islamic Conference, which started in Islamabad on 21 February. The event dedicated to the scientific and technical cooperation is to end op 25 February.

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