Phone-card firm ‘packs off with billions of rupees’
* Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited orders inquiry, promises prompt justice
By Ali Abid
SHEIKHUPURA: A telephone-card company, Shehnoor Communications Private Limited, has allegedly collected billions of rupees from public call offices (PCOs) all over the country and run away, Daily Times learnt on Sunday.
The public call offices have been closed down following collapse of the infrastructure for their services. The offices were running under the tag “Fone 4 U”. Ishfaq, company’s managing director, his brother Iftikhar and their nephew Khurram, residents of Sheikhupura Housing Colony, had set up the company offices in the Sheikhupura Stadium and other parts of the country. The company was authorised to set up PCOs and customer service centres. The company took Rs 26,000 as a security fee from each PCO owner and another Rs 120,000 for providing them with four telephone sets and a computer, the PCOs owners said. They said the company was running over 500 PCOs in Sheikhupura only. The company’s network was set up in Faisalabad, Lahore, Sargodha, Mianwali, Gujranwala, Rawalpindi, Hafizabad, Multan, Dera Ismaeel Khan, Jhang and other parts of the country. The government sources confirmed that the company’s managing director, Ishfaq, flied to England a few days ago and his brother Iftikhar, who was in charge of company’s office in Lahore located at the Eden Center, and their nephew, Khurram, who was in charge of the company’s office in Sheikhupura, had also been disappeared. The company’s offices were found closed on Saturday.
Sources suspected that officials of the Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL) were also part of the dirty game. The company sold its phone cards harging Rs 1.90 a unit instead of Rs 2.30 a unit, a price set by the PTCL. The company owed the PTCL Rs 30 million in Sheikhupura in term of service charges for the last three months. It showed that the PTCL turned a blind eye to the company’s criminal affairs for the last three months. The PCO owners said the government was responsible for their losses and demanded a stern action against those involved in the crime.
The Pakistan Telecom Authority had issued license to the Shehnoor Communications Private Limited. The PTCL authorities told Daily Times that a high-level inquiry had already been launched into the scandal and those involved into the crime would be dealt with firmly.