Prime Minister rules out banning pre-paid SIMs
By: Iftikhar A. Khan
ISLAMABAD: In a move that is sure to allay concerns of cellular companies Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf has rejected the idea of blocking altogether the pre-paid mobile phone SIMs.
Informed sources told Dawn on Friday that while the prime minister wanted a credible verification system for issuing new SIMs by preventing the use of bogus identity, he was against the idea that all pre-paid SIMs should be blocked and such chips should no more be issued.
Interior Minister Rehman Malik had announced four days ago that the government was considering blocking all pre-paid SIMs. The announcement sent shock waves among cellular companies because the major chunk of the business comes from pre-paid service. According to Mr Malik, mobile service had been used for terrorist activities and a large number of SIMs had been issued on fake identities. He said a final decision would be taken in consultation with stakeholders and experts.
But before the consultation process could be undertaken the prime minister directed Mr Malik to take all possible measure to protect the mobile service from elements who misused it, without causing any inconvenience to people. The instruction was given by the prime minister during a meeting with the interior minister here on Friday.
The prime minister said the mobile service had become a necessity in the modern day life and people must continue to enjoy this facility without any disruption.
Mr Malik briefed the prime minister on steps taken by his ministry on Eidul Fitr to pre-empt any untoward incident. He said the decision to block the mobile facility in certain areas played an important role in maintaining peace during Eid.
The prime minister praised the efforts made by the interior minister and his team in coordination with provincial governments to ensure security during the festival days. An official said the ministry of interior would now seek views of experts on ways of streamlining the process of issuing SIMs and preventing the use of fake identity.