Privatization is supposed to boost state revenues, which can only be achieved when deal is transparent, properly audited and public office holders involved in executing deal are not hostage to Conflicts of Interest. In absence of these, what happened in case of PTCL privatization occurs. 

Etisalat International a company owned by UAE owes Pakistan $800Million as balance of total bid amount of US$ 2.598 for 26% shares of PTCL bidding in June 2005. Surprisingly in January 2006 EI requested for certain modifications to transaction structure which were approved by former PM Shaukat Aziz with consent of Musharraf on April 12, 2006, giving them facility of staggered payments, cost of Voluntary Separation Scheme and 3248 properties with clean and clear titles. As usual no proper evaluation was carried out about prevailing market price of these expensive properties. EI has paid only $1.799 and pending amount is $799.3 M. 

3215 of properties have been transferred to EI while remaining 33 properties are yet to be transferred. Pakistan has evaluated them at $87.89 Million, while EI at $125 Million. All major public office holders involved on behalf of Pakistan, without any exception either held foreign nationalities or Iqamas and today live abroad while some are employed in UAE. Former PM Shaukat Aziz has never returned back to country, while Gen Musharraf lives in Dubai. Former Finance Minister Hafeez Sheikh is employed there. Even after change of government in 2008, no efforts have been made by either PPP lead federal government, nor the PML(N). This is what happens when public office holders possess foreign passport, a green card or an Iqama which is basically a work permit facilitating opening bank account etc. 

Finance Minister Dar went around world floating bonds and seeking loans but never once he made an effort to retrieve $800 Million. 

MALIK TARIQ ALI,  

Lahore, February 24.