Country Listing

Pakistan Table of Contents



In the 1980s, considerable effort was made to upgrade the telecommunications system. The Sixth Five-Year Plan, for instance, called for a public-sector investment of Rs10.1 billion to improve and expand the telephone and telex systems. In the mid-1990s, all overseas telecommunications used the Intelsat-VI satellite of the International Telecommunications Satellite Organization. There were also plans to launch a Pakistani satellite based on very small aperture earth stations, which would provide nationwide coverage for domestic telecommunications. The number of telephone connections increased from 461,000 in June 1984 to 1.6 million in March 1993, when the government announced that the Pakistan Telecommunications Corporation would be privatized. A new entity, the National Telecommunications Network, was planned to assume responsibility for the government's own network.

Radio and television are dominated by government corporations. The Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation (PBC) has a monopoly on radio broadcasting. In March 1992, there were 705,000 licensed radios, but the actual number of radios in use was estimated at 10 million. The PBC operates twenty-four medium-wave and three short-wave transmitters for its domestic programs and two medium-wave and eight short-wave transmitters for its external service. There are six networks for domestic service--one national network and the five regional networks for Balochistan, the Islamabad Capital Territory, the North-West Frontier Province, the Northern Areas, Punjab, and Sindh. The external service broadcasts in fifteen languages--Arabic, Burmese, Bengali, Dari, English, Farsi, French, Gujarati, Hindi, Indonesian, Swahili, Tamil, Turkmen, Turkish, and Urdu. An important target audience is Pakistanis working in the Middle East. Azad Kashmir Radio, a separate government-run organization, broadcasts in Azad Kashmir.

In early 1994, the government-controlled Pakistan Television Corporation (PTV) carried programs produced in five centers-- Islamabad, Karachi, Lahore, Peshawar, and Quetta. Programming comes under the purview of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, and goals include providing wholesome entertainment, promoting national solidarity, and projecting an Islamic way of life. In November 1992, PTV began broadcasting on a second channel made possible by Japanese financing and technology. This channel is intended mainly for educational purposes. A commercial station was also established in the early 1990s and provides competition for PTV. In 1993 it was estimated that there were over 2 million television sets, and the number is expected to climb steeply in the 1990s. The main PTV channel is capable of reaching 87 percent of the population, while the second channel is accessible to 56 percent of the population.

Data as of April 1994