RAWALPINDI, Oct 24: The Punjab home department has directed the divisional police chiefs across the province to launch a crackdown against illegal sale of mobile phone SIMs (subscriber identity modules).
The move came after Sargodha police launched a crackdown against illegal sale of SIMs. During the campaign it was learnt that illegal sale of SIMs was being carried out in connivance with ‘black sheep’ in the telecommunication sector. Personal data was obtained from voters’ lists of the Election Commission to activate SIMs. Copies of national identity cards provided by customers to the outlets or franchises of mobile phone services were also being used by franchise owners for activation and sale of SIMs.
In the light of information obtained by police during raids, Punjab Chief Minister Mian Shahbaz Sharif was informed that illegally sold SIMs could be used by terrorists and criminals.
A source said it was recommended that the cases related to the police crackdown against illegal sale of SIMs might be taken up with the federal government (Pakistan Telecommunication Authority and other departments concerned) to make the activation process stricter to curb illegal sale of SIMs.
The source said the provincial home department had asked the additional inspectors general of Special Branch and the officials of counter-terrorism department and intelligence agencies to take measures to check illegal sale of SIMs.
Interior Minister Rehman Malik has said that SIMs registered on fake identity cards will be blocked because thousands of SIMs are being sold on such cards.
Israr Abbasi, SSP operation, said no crackdown had been planned as yet to arrest people using illegal SIMs or franchisers selling them. “Police department cannot check illegal sale of SIMs because it has no such technology. Police can only assist the telecommunication department if it traces the users of illegal SIMs and wants them arrested.”
He said there were hundreds of SIMs registered on fake identity cards and more than one SIM obtained on a single ID card were being used by people. When such SIMs were seized by police, he said, sometimes innocent people had to face problems because of police investigation.