You might have read of the recent raid by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) on the premises of my former employer, Cogilent Solutions, and the subsequent arrest of their CEO, Faisal Chohan. The raid was conducted under the suspicion that Cogilent was providing illegal voice termination services, yet they have yet to produce (or fabricate) any evidence supporting this suspicion. Meanwhile, Faisal remains in custody and under interrogation.
I was heading Cogilent’s “Networks” department about a year ago and was looking after a number of projects, under the guidance of Jawad, our CTO. One of their products, IRIS, was a call center solution based on the Asterisk open source software and this was pretty much the closest they ever came to providing voice services. It had nothing to do with call termination or anything illegal.
To show how ridiculous this whole exercise was, here is a list of items that the FIA confiscated during their raid:
- 1 Notebook PC
- 2 8-Port LAN Switches
- 1 ADSL Router
- 1 P-II 400 MHz PC running Linux and Asterisk
- 1 P-III PC running Asterisk
- 1 PC running squid (this machine was called “gateway” by the Cogilent guys and when PTA officials during raid were frantically asking for gateway or SIMs, the poor guys pointed to this machine as ‘gateway’ and FIA team happily confiscated that.
- 1 Desktop PC with monitor, web cam, key board, etc.
And to top this off, both the PTA and PTCL failed to appear in court for the hearing and the FIA failed to provide any evidence supporting their allegations.
Despite the medieval laws concerning technology in this country, Pakistan is one of the leaders in the development of Voice over IP products and technology. If simply providing such services can be cause for arrest and confiscation of property, how can anyone be expected to continue any positive development here?
Below is an excerpt of an email that was forwarded to me by Hammad, a smart fellow that was in my team and is still with Cogilent Solutions:
In order to highlight the issue before press and IT community, friends of Faisal, Jawad, Cogilent and IT/CS professionals of twin cities would be arranging a peaceful and graceful protest in front of Software Technology Park-II, Evacuee Trust Complex, Aga Khan Road, Next to Marriot Hotel, on Wednesday, 13 December 2006 at 1:30 pm sharp.
I’ll be there together with most of the other IT professionals that I know. I hope the blogging community can also raise their voice against such injustice and help in preventing this nation from slipping back to the stone age.