The long and overdue payment related to the 2005 privatization of Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL) will finally be resolved when the new Pakistani government comes into power, according to Bakheet Ateeq Al-Romaithi, the acting consul general of UAE in Karachi.
“I am honest with you, there is no issue at all and it is between two brothers. I am 100 percent sure the issue will be resolved after the new government takes up the matter”, Al-Romaithi said after the first meeting of the Pakistan-UAE Business Council on Tuesday at the headquarters of the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce & Industry in Karachi.
“It is between two brothers and can be amicably resolved”, he continued, adding that the amount is small, compared with how much the UAE has invested in infrastructure and education in Pakistan.
Privatization Secretary Irfan Ali recently told Arab News that if the matter was not resolved, the Pakistani government will approach the International Court of Arbitration in London as a last resort.
“Etisalat is delaying payments claiming that Pakistan has yet to alter 3,500 properties as part of an agreement made with the government of Pakistan,” said Ali. “That process, however, was completed in 2015, barring some 33 properties that were not transferable and were to be decided upon at a later stage, as per the agreement.”
Pakistan privatized PTCL, its national telecommunication company, in 2005 through a bidding process. Etisalat acquired a 26 percent stake and management control for $2.6 billion. However, the company withheld $800 million and the issue remains unresolved after more than a decade.
After the sale to Etisalat, a further 12 percent of PTCL shares were sold to the general public in 2006 under an intensified privatization program during Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz’s time in power. The remaining 62 percent of shares remain under the control of state-owned corporations in Pakistan.
The bilateral trade between Pakistan and UAE is currently tilted highly towards UAE. The trade stands at $8.3 billion, of which Pakistani exports accumulate to merely $869 million while imports stand at a whopping $7.52 billion. With a new government in office, it is expected that Pakistan will renew its trade policies with UAE.