By Muhammad Yasir
Federal Interior Minister Rehman Malik has directed all cellular operators to establish a system to sell SIM (Subscribers Identity Modules) by post to applicant subscribers within 15 days.
Briefing the media at the conclusion of exclusive meeting on prevailing law and order situation of Karachi, he said every mobile phone company should ensure accurate SIM registration with Computerised National Identity Card (CNIC) number of subscribers on war footing being used illegally in terrorist attacks.
He said companies should stop selling out pre-activated SIM and make it mandatory for its buyers to get registered SIM identity with National Registration Database Authority (Nadra) at any cost.
Citing his intelligence report, he said the issuance of 50 SIMs on single CNIC should be stopped because SIMs could be bought with the registration of stolen CNIC.
Cellular operators’ officials said no such plan could be established without their due consultation in shortest span of time, saying it is impossible for operators to sell SIMs by post, which is carried out safely by thousands of franchises and retailers in the country. All cellular operators are selling inactive SIMs, which is activated after its proper registration with subscribers’ CNIC by Nadra, they added requesting not to be named.
Operators have followed all directives of the operators and carried out utmost efforts to curb the misuse of the SIM particularly for unfair means.
Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) in collaboration with Nadra and cellular operators centralised the SIM Activation System in February 2009. It also launched SIM Information System-668 to rectify and update subscribers’ data with company against its CNIC number.
Rehman Malik has on several occasions threatened to block SIMs being used for sending SMS for “negative purpose.”
PTA distanced itself implementing on this directives and said it was not its domain to block and to monitor SMS of mobile phone users. The government has taken the decision in haste without determining the technical issues and will backtrack on it soon just like it did in the past, an official of leading cellular operator commented.
Interior Minister also said mobile phone users could help the government control the deteriorating law and order situation through sending SMS and MMS to Law Enforcement Agencies (LAEs). He suggested prize should be awarded to the people aiding the government to inform about miscreants and terrorists.