NACTA’s helpline choked with prank calls
ISLAMABAD: An official helpline dedicated to curbing terror has become a source of entertainment for citizens. The 1717 helpline – set up by the National Counter Terrorism Authority – was designed so as to allow citizens to share information but of late it has become subject to mockery.
Sources close to The Express Tribune revealed that Nacta has been receiving two types of spam calls. The records shared show that a number of callers have been asking the operators irrelevant and absurd questions including their marital status or eliciting marriage proposals. Sometimes mothers have been known to use the helpline in a bid to stop their children from crying.
At times, callers have passed on false information on to the hotline. For instance, some callers inform the operator they have planted a bomb somewhere or they want to carry out an act of terrorism. Those who provide such information are booked under the Telegraphic Act’s section 25-B. The law says that in such a case a maximum of three years imprisonment may be awarded by the law enforcing authorities.
However, one individual who made such a call in April has been booked under the Anti-Terrorism Act and is facing charges for the hoax call. He had claimed that he had planted bombs in parliament, Saddar (Rawalpindi) and in a five-star hotel.
Some 8,264 spam calls were received in the first twenty days of July, according to a statement released by the agency on Thursday. The figures released for the calls showed that only 41 calls were legitimate amongst the total 8,305 calls made during 1st to 20th.
The statement said that the figures were released during Nacta’s internal monthly meeting chaired by national coordinator Ahsan Ghani. The participants were informed that although Nacta faces a shortage of resources, it is still maintaining the helpline in a bid to tackle terrorism.
Ghani also said that 75 sims of frequent spam callers who had made more than 50 bogus calls were blocked through PTA.
He also informed that in order to ensure that callers are aware of the consequences of spreading a hoax; a default caller tune has been set to convey a legal warning to the callers.