ISLAMABAD ( ABRAR MUSTAFA )
After arrest of a local businessman for helping the outlawed Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in its criminal activities, the district police have renewed their call to the authorities to block SIMs of Afghanistan-origin, being used by criminal gangs in Rawalpindi and Islamabad Pakistan.
“Police have been trying, and had written to the authorities, to block illegal cellphone SIMs (Subscriber Identity Module) of Afghanistan which are being used by extortionists, other criminals and by Afghan nationals living in Rawalpindi,” Regional Police Officer (RPO) Akhtar Omer Hayat Laleka told Media. Dawn reported on wedensday.
RPO Laleka did not disclose the number of illegal Afghan SIMs traced by his force but said that the arrested businessman had provided information about wealthy people TTP gangs could prey upon.
Dawn has learnt that the counter-terrorism department of Punjab was also worried at the trend and has asked authorities to take measures to stop the use of Afghan-origin SIMs by extortionists, kidnappers and smugglers and Afghan nationals living in Pakistan.
According to intelligence sources, the department had suggested to the Punjab government to take legal action against the use of Afghan SIMs, issued mostly by the cellular firm Roshan to its Afghan customers.
Intelligence sources said Iran and India have raised so-called “geo-fencing” in their border areas to stop signals of unwelcome foreign SIMs reaching their territories.
Regional Police Officer (RPO) Omer Akhtar Hayat Laleka told mediapersons at his office here on Monday that Haji Naeem, a hosiery trader and a resident of Mohanpura locality, had also staged a kidnapping for ransom drama a couple of days ago.
The RPO said after the police tracked down the suspect, he confessed to working as an informer for the TTP.
“He used to provide the TTP group in Waziristan mobile phone numbers of wealthy people and businessmen. Later, the group members would call victims to extort money from them,” RPO Laleka said.
In some cases, SIMs (subscriber identity module) issued in Afghanistan were used by the extortionists.
The RPO said three other persons had been arrested on the charge of taking extortions.
However, except the businessman, he added, none of the alleged extortionists arrested by the police had links with any banned militant outfit or political party.
One of the arrested man belonged to Karachi but his links with any political party were not established during the investigation.
According to sources close to the investigation, two men said to be the mastermind of the gang of extortionists were yet to be arrested. One of them belonged to Murree while the other was from Abbottabad.
This situation raises many questions:
1) What has PTA’s enforcement cell been doing what if these SIMs are still active in the country?
2) According to Police sources three calls were made from illegal SIM that was found with the businessman, two calls were made on mobile phones whereas one was made on a local phone number in the case of the boy that was kidnapped.
3) Lastly why is it that SIM of a major telecom company was activated illegaly and PTA failed to take any action?