Mobile phones help and bust crimes
ISLAMABAD, Aug 5: A Senate committee has asked the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) to help improve law and order in the country by denying criminals easy access to mobile phones.
Members of a sub-committee of the Senate Standing Committee on Interior who discussed the use of mobile phones in committing and busting crimes on Saturday noted that until recently mobile phone SIMs were being sold without checking the personal data of the buyer.
Unauthorised sale of SIMs made it impossible to trace the buyer who used it to commit crimes from the phone company’s records.
In a move to curb the illicit sale of SIMs, the Senate sub- committee urged the PTA to take preventive measures and assist law enforcement agencies in reaching criminals who misuse mobile phones.
“PTA issues licences to these big mobile phone companies. And they provide code of ethics. Thousands of undocumented connections have been sold. It’s clearly a violation,” Senator Gulshan Saeed told Dawn’
She took offence to the PTA chairman Maj (retd) Shahzada Alam ignoring the notice sent to him 10 days ago to appear in person before the sub-committee.
“They (PTA) sent their director technical to the last meeting. But he had no answers to our simple questions. We will adopt other legal channels if the PTA chairman fails to attend our next meetings,” she said.
In a fierce competition to promote their businesses, mobile telephone companies reportedly had been issuing connections in bulk without verifying the identities of their subscribers from NADRA to promote their businesses. In doing so they violated PTA rules and regulations.
In Saturday’s meeting, Nadra representatives informed the sub-committee that cellular phone companies can benefit from the online verification system introduced by Nadra.
According to Nadra records, 20.1 million connections have been sold by various companies so far. Of them 17.25 million connections had been verified by these companies and the remaining 2.85 million subscribers were untraceable.
The meeting was also attended representatives of the provincial home departments who complained and attributed rise in crime in various cities of Pakistan to unauthorised sales of SIMs.
“The fact that purchasers did not submit his/her name and proof of address has raised concerns that the phones are being used in criminal or terrorist activities. On several occasions PTA has not been able to provide record or related information on connections,” observed one member of the sub-committee.
Another member said people could buy SIMs anonymously and use them without leaving any paper trail. “It’s become an appealing tool for illicit or terrorist activities. Blocking untraceable numbers can be a big step in crime reduction.” he said.