Cellular firms complete SIM verification processArchive
ISLAMABAD: All cellular companies operating in the country have completed biometric verification of Subscriber Identity Modules (SIMs) within the final deadline given to them by the interior ministry.
The original deadline given for the purpose was April 12, but SIMs of some categories were allowed to operate even after that date. These included SIMs which had been issued against a single computerised national identity card and which had been in continuous use for at least two years.
At a meeting, chief executive officers of the cellular phone companies had requested Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan to extend the deadline for two weeks. The request was accepted by the minister and May 15 was set as the final date for completion of the process.
According to official sources, of the 103 million active SIMs, 75.5m have been re-verified and 27.5m blocked.
The government had asked the companies to re-verify the subscribers’ data, irrespective of whether the SIMs were dormant or active. As many as 21m SIMs were verified.
Meanwhile, after completion of the long-awaited and vital process, the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has been directed to carry out a third party audit of the exercise to verify its authenticity.
An Expression of Interest for hiring the auditor has already been floated.
A PTA official told Dawn that SIMs with roaming facility were given codes and after receiving the requisite information they were temporarily made active. However, SIMs without the facility were blocked and would not be allocated to any person till one year.
A blocked SIM can be re-activated within that period, following biometric verification of the card.
The official said the biometric verification exercise was a great success and would go a long way in minimising the misuse of mobile phones for terrorist activities.
The interior minister has urged the telecom operators to put in place monitoring mechanisms to check possible moves to deceive the system.
Published in Dawn, May 17th, 2015
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