Pakistan telcos summonsed over illegal SIMs

Dylan Bushell-Embling
17 Sep 2013
Daily News

The availability and use of unregistered or improperly registered SIMs is back on the agenda in Pakistan, with a district high court summoning the industry and lawmakers to give evidence on the issue.

The Peshawar High Court of its own volition has called the chairman of regulator PTA, the secretary interior ministry and CEOs of all the nation's telecom operators to give input into a case involving unregistered SIMs being used for extortion, The News International reported.

They will be required to give input into the government policy banning the sale of SIMs without proper verification, and why it is not being effectively enforced.

The rules were introduced last year due to concerns unregistered SIMs make it more difficult to track down the perpetrators of bomb blasts and other threats to national security

But the court's chief justice alleged that unverified SIMs are still more available in the nation's shops than vegetables, and that the operators have started selling unregistered SIMs to avoid tax payments.

SIMs are supposed to be only available to customers verified through their computerised national identity cards (CNICs), but the chief justice said that due to the practice of operators giving SIMs away for free, anybody can register a SIM using someone else's CNIC.

Mobile subscribers who have not taken action to block such SIMs registered wrongly in their names could meanwhile face legal action, The Nation separately reported.

If a subscriber does not use an SMS service to block falsely registered SIMs, they will be considered the legal owner and may encounter legal consequences if the SIM is used in a crime. PTA estimates that 4.7 million SIMs have yet to be reverified via the SMS hotline.

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