ISLAMABAD ( ABRAR MUSTAFA )
Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan Tuesday agreed to the proposal regarding verification of SIMs and decided of verification of SIMs on White List to 15th May 2015.
He said that unverified and illegal SIMs were cited as one of the major reasons after every crime and terrorist activity. He was chairing a high level meeting at the Ministry of Interior (MoI) regarding verifications of mobile phone SIMs. Secretary MoIT Azmat Ali Ranjha, DG FIA Akber Khan Hoti, Chairman PTA Dr. Ismail Shah, Chairman Nadra Usman Yousuf Mubeen, Additional Secretary MoI, Hamid Ali Khan, NC NACTA, DG NCMC Saud Aziz, CEO Mobilink Jeffery Hedberg, CEO Ufone Abdul Aziz, CEO Telenor Michael Foley, CEO Warid, Muneer Farooqi and CEO CMPAK Ge Jianbao attended the meeting. Chairman Pakistan Telecommunication Authority confirmed Telecoalert.com that Sims on White list more than 10 Million sims may be verified till 15th May. Which was proposed by PTA that completed till 30th April.
Ch Nisar Ali said that the process of verification of SIMs was planned during the previous government. Various deadlines were set but then the deadlines were never observed and the process remained incomplete.
The Minister congratulated all telecom operators, PTA, Ministry of IT and others for their success regarding the process of SIMs verification.He said that the success had only been possible through the commitment of all towards the larger goals and towards the security of the country.
Ch. Nisar said that now we have to mop up what is left behind and to take next steps so that this process reaches it logical conclusion, adding, that we have to take decision that have the support of all stakeholders so that they could be implemented.
He said that when the present government took over and operation was launched against criminals and the terrorists, the government started verification process. After the Peshawar incident, especially, when the NAP was conceived, he took over the charge of completing this job that had remained incomplete for past 6 1/2 years.
He said that SIMs-verification process was started to ensure of the security of the country and he refused to accept any pressure or consideration in this regard, adding that he made it clear that the use of any unverified SIMs would invite registration of FIR against the respective Telco. This created quite a scare among the telecom operators.
The minister recalled that in one of his meeting with the Prime Minister where Finance Minister was also present, the Finance Minister got a message that telecom operators are threatening to pack up their businesses from Pakistan if the instructions to register FIR against them in case an illegal SIM was found in any criminal activity were not withdrawn. But the interior Minister said that it is not the question of investment, it was the question of security of Pakistan. He said that he firmly believes that investment would only be secured if there is security in the country.
Chairman PTA Dr. Ismail Shah then briefed the meeting about the progress made so far on verification process. He said that PTA took a number of steps to ensure transparency and authenticity of the verification process that included issuance of SOP, barring sale by retailers, restricting data at franchises. For facilitating consumers, the process was carried out on door-to-door basis with kiosk activities. He said that separate arrangements were made from ladies and old aged citizens
On a query about the procedure for overseas Pakistanis, Chairman PTA informed the meeting that the SIMs with roaming facility were sent a code and after receiving requisite information they were temporarily made active. However, the SIMs without roaming facility have been blocked but they would not be allocated to any other person till one year has passed. In this one year, a blocked SIM can be re-activated after going through biometric verification.
Updating the meeting on the number of SIMs verified, Chairman PTA said that out of 103 million base SIMs, 73 million SIMs have been verified through BVS (Biometric verification System). He said that out of these base SIMs 20 million SIMs have been blocked. He said that others 21 million SIMs which were dormant have also been verified. The Chairman said that PTA had prioritised the task of verification. In the first phase SIMs falling in Grey List (CNIC having more than 2 SIMs per CNIC per operator) were targeted from 12th Jan 2015 to 26 February 2015. He said that in the second phase which would be completed till 30th April, White List SIMs (CNIC having 1-2 SIMs per CNIC per operator are being engaged.
Secretary MoIT and Chairman PTA also informed the Minister that the telecom operators were soliciting some more days for the re-verification of the SIMs on White List. The request was made unanimously by all the operators. The interior minister agreed to the proposal and decided to extend the date of verification of SIMs on White List to 15thMay 2015.
The Interior Minister observed that the telecom operators, MoIT, PTA have done a commendable job which was indeed a remarkable achievement. He said that what could not be achieved in 6 1/2 year was achieved in just three months.
The Interior Minister said that verification of the SIMs was a great success and a huge step forward towards minimising the possible use of a communication tool/object (mobile SIM) for any terrorist activity. He called upon the telecom operators to set monitoring mechanism. He said that PTA should take a lead in this regard.
The minister also emphasised the need for greater coordination and information sharing among the telecom operators, PTA, intelligence agencies and other concerned/ stakeholders.