Plan to curb misuse of cellphone SIMs
KARACHI: Federal Interior Minister Rahman Malik along with Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah discussed law and order in the province at a meeting held at the Chief Minister’s House on Tuesday in the backdrop of twin terrorist attacks on Pakistan Navy buses in Karachi earlier in the day.
It was also stated that the government had decided to revisit the Anti-Terrorism Act to provide protection to witnesses and to include use of electronic devices for acts of terrorism under its purview.
The government also took decisions on framing stringent rules for the issuance of SIMs (Subscriber Identity Modules) in order to break the network of terrorists.
Referring to the ongoing spate of targeted killings in Karachi, Mr Malik said that one of the suspects arrested in this regard had confessed to have killed 40 people. Another one possessed 500 SIMs and yet another one had more than 100 SIMs in his possession.
The meeting appreciated the government’s move towards curbing misuse of SIMs and cellphones.
Mr Malik was of the view that the major Sindh coalition partners – Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) and Awami National Party (ANP) – all were on the same page in dealing with terrorist elements but there were certain elements who were out to destabilise Pakistan through various methods.
Syed Qaim Ali Shah, with reference to the fresh attacks on PN buses, told the meeting that the police, Rangers and other law-enforcement agencies were put on high alert on the basis of available information but terrorists chose the target that did not figure in the plan.
He said that as a result of dialogue between political forces, there had been considerable decline in targeted killings in Karachi while kidnapping for ransom had also dropped by 38 per cent.
The meeting was informed that during January-April this year, a total of 557 murders were carried out in the city with an average of 4.9 per day. He said 153 people lost their lives in targeted killings, the average coming to 1.4 per day.
The meeting decided that pre-paid phone SIMs should be re-verified with ID cards within 30 days and IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Identity) numbers of mobile phones should also be re-verified during the same period of time.
No new SIM would be issued to a purchaser rather it would be instantly posted through registered post as per the ID card address whether permanent or temporary.
The police and FIA would carry out surprise raids to see whether the instructions about SIMs sales and delivery were being complied with or not. In this context, the police and FIA had already been instructed, the meeting was told.
The meeting appreciated police and Rangers efforts towards checking terrorism, and it was decided that the provincial and Karachi police chiefs would be awarded ‘gallantry awards’. Recommendations for awards to other deserving personnel had also been sought, the meeting noted.
It was decided in the meeting that action against culprits of targeted killings and other crimes would be continued without any discrimination. Police had been directed to collect data about such criminals and share the information with the ministry of interior, agencies and other provinces for necessary action.
Police were asked to submit a list of those who were at present on bail after having committed crimes earlier. It was decided that proscribed organisations should not be allowed to continue with their activities; office-bearers of banned outfits would not be allowed to operate under any new name; and steps should be taken to maintain a close coordination among all provinces to curb crimes and stop criminals from taking refuge in other provinces.
It was further decided that nobody would be allowed access to a crime scene until clearance from forensic experts. This would be done to protect crime-scene evidence from being tampered with or getting destroyed.
The meeting was attended by the chief secretary, provincial police officer, deputy director-general of the Sindh Rangers, home Secretary, capital city police officer, additional IG of the special branch, director of Intelligence Bureau, DIGs of south, east and west and representatives of other intelligence agencies.