The Pakistani government is reportedly close to resolving the more than decade-long deadlock with Etisalat over the part privatisation of Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL), Dawn writes. Privatisation Commission Chairman Rizwan Malik told lawmakers on the Senate Standing Committee on Information Technology and Telecommunication that a delegation from Etisalat had met with the Prime Minister and expressed their eagerness to finally close the deal. Etisalat had agreed to purchase a 26% stake in the telco in 2006 for around USD2.6 billion over a five-year period but, after receiving its shares, ceased making payments with USD800 million left unpaid. The UAE-based group refused to clear the remaining amount until the government completes part of the agreement relating to the the transfer of 3,248 properties to Etisalat. Islamabad has been unable to uphold this commitment, however, as not all of the properties listed in the original 2006 agreement belonged to the state. Despite complications, though, by the end of 2016 the government had transferred all but 33 properties to Etisalat, considering the outstanding properties impossible to hand over.
Briefing the standing committee on the situation, the official explained that the remaining 33 properties had been evaluated at market price and the information passed to Etisalat and that Etisalat had been asked to do the same. Mr Malik was quoted as saying: ‘The purpose was to adjust the price of the remaining properties against the outstanding payment from Etisalat. Nonetheless, the UAE-based company has finally agreed to discuss the status of properties.’ The official highlighted the closer cooperation between the two parties to resolve the twelve-year deadlock, noting that another meeting with Etisalat is planned for later this month.