Failure to block unverified SIMs: action to be taken against mobile companies -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Failure to block unverified SIMs: action to be taken against mobile companies

ISLAMABAD (June 21 2008): Strict action will be taken against the cellular companies for their failure to block all unverified SIMs within the deadline given by the Standing Committee on Interior. Chairman of the committee Senator Muhammad Talha Mehmood on Friday vowed to take action after June 30.

He said the PTA had turned a deaf ear to the directives of the committee as the number of the unregistered SIMs was still in millions and emphasised that the PTA should gear up its efforts to rid the country of the menace.

Earlier, Senate Standing Committee on Interior had directed the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) to impose Rs 350 million fine on each mobile company if they fail in deactivating 7.454 million unauthorised SIMs by May 22.

“We directed the PTA to issue show-cause notices to cell phone companies on May 22 and impose fine of Rs 350 million each along with cancellation of licenses if they don’t comply with the regulator’s directives,” said Senator Muhammad Talha Mehmood.

He said that a privilege motion would be moved in the Senate against the cell phone companies for their failure to submit an audit report. “An income tax officer or an auditor can demand this report which they have resisted submitting in the Senate Committee and we will take stern action against these companies,” he said and added “The audit report will reveal the investment they have made in Pakistan and what they have taken back so far.”

A four-member committee consisting of Secretary Interior, Secretary Information Technology, Nadra chairman, and PTA chairman was constituted to streamline the matters regarding the unauthorised SIMs and other procedures, said Talha Mehmood, adding that at present, 7,453,508 unauthorised SIMs were still active in the country.

He said that cell phone companies were asked to present monthly statement of SIMs issued, verified and action taken against unverified SIMs to PTA, while the PTA was directed to probe into major lapses in issuance and distribution of SIMs.

He said the PTA should obtain appropriate guarantees from the companies before issuing the licenses. He said the cell phone companies were directed not to activate any SIM without proper verification and only 10 SIMs would be given on one name, adding that the companies were asked to register the satellite phone and no satellite phone be given without following registration procedures.

He said the cell phones are major means of communication by criminals and terrorists who invariably use unauthorised SIMs not registered in their names and this practice needs to be brought to an end.

The committee asked the PTA and cell phone companies to develop software to monitor the issuance of multiple SIMs on the same name, he said and added that the committee also asked to sell SIMs through authorised outlets only. “We are not against their business or investment in Pakistan but rules must be followed and that no compromise will be made on the principles,” Senator Talha added.

The Senate Committee met in Parliament House in April with Senator Talha Mehmood in the chair while senators, Raziq Khan, Gulshan Saeed, Sadia Abbasi, Dr Abdul Khaliq Peerzada attended the meeting. Secretary Interior Syed Kamal Shah, Secretary IT Hafizur Rehman, Chairman Nadra Saleem Moeen and Chairman PTA were also present in the meeting.
Source: Business Recorder