Millennium Post

Fate of 100 mn Pak mobile subscribers uncertain

A huge number of pre-paid mobile phone users in Pakistan may lose their connections since telecom operators have expressed their "inability" to re-verify the subscribers within a 28-day deadline set by the government.

The telecom operators had sought 150-200 more days for completion of the re-verification process. Otherwise, they say, they will have to block the pre-paid SIMs (subscriber identification modules) to meet the deadline, Dawn online reported citing a source in the industry. According to the source, there are about 140 million SIMs in the country and only 10 per cent of them are post-paid ones.
The interior ministry of Pakistan set the 28-day deadline after the December 16 Peshawar school attack during which the terrorists had used "biometric verified" SIMs for communication. The representatives of five operators -- Mobilink, Ufone, Telenor, Warid and Zong -- will hold a meeting this week with Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, Minister of State for IT and Telecommunication Anusha Rehman and Pakistan Telecommunication Authority Chairman Ismail Shah to discuss and a find a solution to the problem.

“The operators will apprise the government of their inability to re-verify over 100 million pre-paid SIMs in such a short time. We will seek a realistic period for the purpose,” an official of a leading mobile phone company told Dawn.

He said the general public would be the ultimate sufferer if the SIMs were blocked for a month. 
In order to stop the sale of illegal SIMs, the PTA had introduced the biometric verification system about a year ago. Although the cellular companies have installed the system at their customer sales centres, franchises and retailers, still there are complaints about the sale of illegal and unauthorised SIMs.


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