Threats abound in Pakistan, amid wide network of Afghan SIMs | Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Pakistan Press Foundation

Threats abound in Pakistan, amid wide network of Afghan SIMs

Pakistan Press Foundation

PESHAWAR: Afghan SIMs with roaming facility in Pakistan – particularly in the tribal areas – pose a serious threat to security not only to the public, but also their representatives.

Officials of the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) Home and Tribal Affairs department on Monday cited a recent example of tracing a number that turned out to be of Afghan origin. “The caller threatened a former provincial minister, prompting the latter to file a complaint against the caller,” said an official while requesting anonymity.

The caller was later traced by the National Crisis Management Cell (NCMC) which discovered the number was of an Afghan SIM, he added. Even though the call was ‘traced’, the home department could not take action since the caller’s whereabouts remained unknown, shared the official.

The department has proposed suspending roaming services currently extended to Afghan SIMs. However, the decision is yet to be taken because many Afghan mobile connections are used for business dealings as well.

On October 24, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) informed the Peshawar High Court (PHC) around 40,000 Afghan SIMs were operational in the province and the tribal areas. The SIMs function through international roaming services provided by local cellular service providers.

The report also claimed foreign SIMs were being used in terror-related incidents, extortion and other crimes, adding there was no written agreement between Pakistani and Afghan telecommunication companies of providing roaming services.

During that same hearing, the court was also told Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) had blocked around 22.59 million unregistered SIMs in the last five years and service providers are introducing a biometric system for issuing new connections in the future.

In light of the report presented before the court, Peshawar Deputy Commissioner Syed Zaheerul Islam on October 25 imposed a ban on buying and selling Afghan-based connections, declaring it a crime under Section 188 of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC).

Source: Express Tribune