Blocking pre-paid SIMs -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Blocking pre-paid SIMs

By: S. AUSAF HUSAIN

THIS is apropos of the report ‘Concern over plan to block pre-paid SIMs’ (Aug 24). The interior minister’s plans to block pre-paid SIMs with the objective to prevent the use of cellphones for terrorist activities. But the minister forgot that blocking of all pre-paid SIMs is neither justified nor it will serve the purpose. However, the prime minister has taken the right decision to reject the idea of blocking pre-paid SIMs altogether (Aug 25).

Cell phones with post-paid connection can also be used for terrorist activities if taken by terrorists from the possession of persons kidnapped or killed by them. In this case neither the PTA nor the cell phone operators’ companies will be able to catch anybody and they can only block the SIM or disconnect the post-paid connection provided it is detected after the damage is already done.

Our approach should be to assess the threats posed due to the use of cell phones by terrorists and to find out what we can do to prevent this.

The use of cell phone is now a common sight as every second person has one. Even professional beggars on the streets now carry mobile phones concealed in their clothes. Similarly, prisoners in jails use these phones with the knowledge of the jail staff who allow them secretly on receiving a handsome amount.

Some time terrorists and criminals carry out their conversation or exchange sms in a self-made secret language which cannot be understood and read by government agencies intercepting cell phone calls.

Although cell phones are used as a weapon for blasting bombs and improvised explosive devises, we should develop some system to overcome this problem. At first the PTA, with the help of Nadra, should launch a special operation to detect and block all unregistered sims.

However, this operation will only be successful if all the five cellphone companies cooperate with the PTA and Nadra in detecting the unregistered sims and providing details of the holders of these sims to them for verifying their antecedents.

It is pertinent to note that so far cell phones are stolen and snatched by criminals for making money by selling these in the black market.

However, after the unregistered SIMs is blocked, the cell phones, either with registered SIMs or with paid connections, of the kidnapped or murdered persons may be used for terrorist activities.

There is another option that cell phone cards may also be registered. Cards which are not registered should remain inactive even after being fed into the cell phone. Thus holders of unregistered SIMs will not be able to use their cell phones, having no
Balance amount in their cell phones.

Dawn