No new sim without verifying the bio-metric System after 31. July

ISLAMABAD ( BMZ REPORT )

The government and the five cellular service providing companies active in Pakistan signed an agreement on Friday under which, no new Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) will be issued after July 31, 2014, without verifying the biometric identity of the applicant from the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA)’s biometric system.

The new agreement signed on Friday has resolved a two year row between the government and cellular service providers who had been resisting the move.

Chairman NADRA and the CEOs of Ufone, Mobilink, Zong, Warid and Telenor all signed the agreement. Chairman Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) Dr Syed Ismail Shah witnessed the signing ceremony.

Federal Minister for Interior and Narcotics Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan has said that biometric based SIM verification will provide better technological support to the law enforcement agencies thus improving security situation in the country.

He said this during a presentation given to him by Chairman NADRA, Mr. Imtiaz Tajwar prior to the signing of agreement on Biometric Based SIM Issuance between NADRA and Telecom Operators here on Friday at NADRA Headquarters. Chairman PTA Dr. Syed Ismail Shah also witnessed the signing ceremony.

He said this is an area of high priority and high concern for the government. As per the new system nobody will be able to buy a new SIM without going through biometric verification process, he added.

The Minister asked NADRA and the cellular companies to devise a mechanism for clearing a heavy backlog of unverified SIMs in the country.

Chairman NADRA signed this agreement with the CEOs of Ufone, Mobilink, Zong, Warid and Telenor.

Earlier, in his presentation, Chairman NADRA informed the Minister that NADRA, in consultation with all stakeholders, finalized the agreement through which issuance of mobile phone SIMS on fake identity would not be possible.

The Minister was told that NADRA being the sole custodian of biometrics of over 96 per cent of total population of the country, has offered this biometric solution in the wake of Interior Ministry’s security concerns over the use of cellular devices in terrorist and criminal activities.

It is pertinent to mention here that NADRA in this regard has already demonstrated the new Biometric Verification Systems services and applications to Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) and Telecom Operators last year. NADRA floated the draft agreement among the telecom companies, for the solution. The representatives of the telecom companies and PTA took part in the verification of their biometric impressions through the proposed solution. The proposed solution conforms to the requirements of PTA directives.

As per the requirement of Biometric Verification System each citizen has to go to retailer, franchisee or Customer Service Centers of particular Cellular Operators and provide his/ her biometric for genuine authentication against CNIC data that is held with NADRA. After successful transaction the SIM will be activated. The complete operation will be online and take maximum 15 seconds end to end.

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