Following article got published on "ApnaTime.com"
Last week Interior Minister Rehman Malik ordered to block 5000 unregistered SIMs in Pakistan by 12:00 on that night.He passed these direction while he was visiting Karachi in order to address the ever deteriorating law and order situation in Karachi.
As expected, no operator took note of his direction whereas, PTA responded very firmly on the issue of blocking 5000 SIMs without any procedure. One of the news channels, it said, Rehman Malik’s statement to block 5000 SIMs over night is ridiculous. We have already blocked some 602,234 stolen mobilephones during last 3 years”.
Authority further said, “There are more than 100 million SIMs operating in the country and the mobilephones carrying Multiple IMEI numbers can’t be deactivated without proper verification. It is impossible to eliminate SIMs which are issued on fake names and the ones which are unverified.
The interior minister has once again issued directions to block 1 million SIMs along with the re-verification of entire customer base in Pakistan. Besides, it has asked the authority and the cellular companies to issue one SIM to each subscriber.
Currently, a subscriber with a valid NIC can buy 10 SIMs of each operator in his/her name The same phenomenon has swelled the cellular customerbase to 100 million active/inactive users across the country.
Analysts say, Abrupt blocking of SIMs will hinder the swift growth of telecom sector but will bring no good to the current prevailing security issues regarding unregistered SIMs. Moreover, mobile service operators are protesting against the new policy of issuing one SIM card over one NIC because;
There are number of revenue generating young users under the age of 18 who have the limitation to have their SIM cards registered in the name of elderly people of their families.
Females who are adults, but married, have their SIMs card registered in the name of their husbands.
Telecom sector is the only industry in Pakistan which is contributing a major chunk to the national exchequer, thus maximum revenue to the country. Creating obstacles in its growth by implementing such impractical policies will cause a great loss to the country’s economy.
As per the previous laws formed by PTA, customers were facilitated to keep ten SIMs of each operator at one time. Due to this facility, customers were able to avail many different packages of various service providers. It greatly enhanced the proliferation of network providers across the country. Blocking the SIMs will cause only a business loss and will not be able to prevent increasing crime rate which is being associated with unregistered SIMs.
According to Rehman Malik’s new policy SIMs will not be available in the markets, shops or authorized franchises. Customer will have to submit his/her details and SIM will be delivered at home by government representative. It looks so ridiculous, Is it practically possible to deliver physically the SIM cards at the door step of thousands of subscribers on daily basis?
Moreover a high level meeting held on Tuesday in ministry of interior in which following things were observed:
A lot of mobile phones with same IMEI numbers are available in the markets which are difficult to trace if used in terrorist activities.
The meeting emphasized, on stopping the sale of all phones, bearing the same IMEI numbers. All service providers were asked to identify the consumers holding phones with duplicate/multiple IMEI numbers against one sim within 10 days.
It was decided in the meeting that all prepaid Sims should be verified in 30 days and SIMs with IMEI numbers need to be synchronized with the help of service provider and NADRA.
Nobody can import phones without authorization of PTA.
In order to get import license importer must submit phone’s specifications including IMEI numbers of SIMs and phones to PTA.
The only Solution:
As government is equally responsible in all the mess resulted by unauthorized SIMs, government should facilitate the re-registration process by funding it, instead of forming policies which have no practical value. There should be a deadline for both operators and subscribers for re-registering each and every SIM. As soon as the deadline ends; all the un-authorized SIMs should be blocked. In the end we will be left with all working and registered SIMs as per the desire of Rehman Malik!