PHC summons govt, telecom officials over unverified SIM cards
PESHAWAR: Taking suo moto notice of open sale of mobile phone SIM cards without proper verification, Peshawar High Court (PHC) Chief Justice Dost Muhammad Khan on Friday summoned the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority chairman, the secretary interior ministry and chief executives of all the mobile companies at the next hearing of the case.
A single bench headed by the chief justice also put on notice attorney general of Pakistan (AGP) and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa advocate general (AG) to appear and assist the court about the government policy regarding sale of SIM cards in the open market without proper verification as the sale of unregistered SIMs has put the national security at risk due to its use in bomb blasts and other terrorist activities. The bench directed the PTA chairman, interior ministry secretary, chief secretary and home secretary of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to submit detailed replies and appear before the court to explain whether the open sale of SIMs was in accordance with the government policy.
The bench also directed the officials concerned to produce the government policy on the sale of SIMs in the court at the next hearing. The chief justice observed that to avoid the payment of billions of rupees tax, the chief executives of telecommunication companies have started sale of unregistered SIMs.
“Judiciary won’t remain silent over such a dangerous activity. Some officers of the secret agencies in the name of unregistered SIM cards record private calls and then use it for blackmailing,” the chief justice argued, adding that the PTA is responsible for the misuse of SIMs.
The chief justice took suo moto notice in a bail petition of Nadeem Hussain, a resident of the Swabi district, who was arrested on charges of making threatening calls to a physician Manzoor Hussain for extortion through various unregistered SIM cards from different locations.
“In Pakistan, unregistered SIM cards are more easily available than the vegetables at the shops,” the chief justice remarked. Besides, he said there were also many loopholes in the sales of registered SIMs.
He observed that even in small and poor countries of the world the SIM cards cannot not be issued without proper documentations, but here in Pakistan the SIMs are easily available even to foreigners without proper procedure. The PHC chief justice observed that both the PTA and federal government did not give any attention to such an important issue even after the excessive use of unregistered SIMs in bomb blasts and criminal activities, mostly extortions. He added that currently about 50 million SIM cards are in use in Pakistan and most of the data was found wrong.
Also, he said in a competition to sell maximum SIM cards, the companies are distributing SIMs free of cost and thus anybody can register a SIM card on the computerised national identity card (CNIC) of someone else without permission. He claimed that the companies have issued several SIM cards on one CNIC