Pakistan government does not own ‘.pk’ national domain – A case of inefficiency or policy failure?

Pakistan government does not own ‘.pk’ national domain – A case of inefficiency or policy failure?

ISLAMABAD: Following a thorough investigation major policy lapse has been unearthed, shedding light on a significant policy oversight within Pakistan’s digital infrastructure. The details of which clearly point out that unlike other countries, Pakistan Government does not have ownership of its national .pk website registry.

Well-placed sources in Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) confirmed that the findings of the investigation report are true. They established that the .pk domain registry is not owned by Pakistan government or PTA, the only organization that regulates mobile phone and internet services in Pakistan. Whereas the national domain registry is owned by a Pakistani expat settled in United States named Asher Nisar. Asher Nisar is based in United States for the last 32 years and owns .pk registry under PKNIC, which is registered as a member-based corporation established in June 1992.

Surprisingly upon further investigation, it was revealed that all of the national domains, main .pk and secondary domains, i.e. (, education (, organization ( and others are all in the hands of a single individual based entity, namely PKNIC not the Government of Pakistan. Despite claims on its website of being based in Lahore, the actual operational dynamics suggest otherwise. With control over Pakistan’s national identity domain in the hands of a single individual entity, there exists a tangible risk of data manipulation, misuse, and potential security breaches, which clearly reflects a major policy failure and a security lapse.

Threat to national security coupled with a financial loss?

The current arrangement not only undermines Pakistan’s sovereignty in cyberspace but also exposes vulnerabilities in data security. Unlike several other countries, such as India which manages .in domains through NIXI controlled by Ministry of E&IT, the United Arab Emirates manages .ae domain through government’s TDRA, Pakistan’s inability to rely on a foreign-based entity for its national domain presents a unjustifiable situation. Upon probing, it was revealed that regardless of PKNIC’s role and affiliation, it is also poorly managed and has been hacked several times in the past. This situation puts all of the national, government and public websites at the risk of data breach, hacking, manipulation and misuse. A recent report published by Kaspersky focuses a similar pattern of how data is being stolen from .pk domains.

Adding insult to injury, Pakistan’s national identity (.pk) is not just in insecure hands, but all of the revenue that it is being generating on yearly basis by selling and renewing .pk domains is also moving the money to its origin, United States. A bogus setup is operating in Lahore to fill up a certain need based requirements only. It has been discovered that all internet service providers (ISPs) in Pakistan, including government-managed ones, purchase .pk domains solely from PKNIC. Payments for these domains are made online, with reports suggesting that they are processed through the United States. This arrangement is believed to lead to substantial tax evasion, ultimately harming the country’s finances.

What the Government of Pakistan has to say about it?

Soruces privy to the information confirm that despite repeated requests from the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) to negotiate ownership of the national ‘.pk’ domain registry, no concrete steps have been taken to address this critical issue with PKNIC. According to government sources, there have been numerous correspondences within government institutions and with PKNIC owner regarding this matter, yet practical measures have failed to materialize.

Requests for comment from PTA officials, including Director Miss Malahat and Chairman Maj General (R) Hafeez Ur Rehman HI (M), have been met with silence, indicating the sensitivity and urgency of the matter. Despite repeated attempts to elicit a response through various channels, there has been no official communication from the regulatory body regarding the issue at hand.

Furthermore, discussions with heads of internet companies operating in Pakistan reveal a lack of substantive action on this front. It is suggested that unless the PTA prioritizes this issue, the domain ‘.pk’ cannot be rightfully claimed by Pakistan. In a careful estimate of numbers, if there are around 500,000 .pk domains registered with PKNIC, with the mentioned fees of 1600 rs (higher for users abroad), the yearly turnover is more than 800 million rupees. This inertia has allowed millions of dollars to flow out of the country unchecked, with no benefit accruing to the government in terms of taxes or regulatory oversight.

It is alleged that the process of registering the domain under government control could be completed swiftly, yet it appears that bureaucratic hurdles and allegations of bribery have impeded progress in this regard. This inaction not only undermines Pakistan’s digital sovereignty but also perpetuates financial losses and regulatory oversight lapses.