PESHAWAR: The federal government has decided about the re-verification of mobile phone SIM cards issued across the country.
The exercise will start from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, including its tribal districts on the Pak-Afghan border, official sources told Dawn.
They said the decision about re-verification of SIMs was made during last week’s meeting of the apex committee here.
Besides caretaker Chief Minister Mohammad Azam Khan, the meeting was also attended by Chief of Army Staff General Syed Asim Munir and members of the federal cabinet.
A senior official told Dawn on condition of anonymity that there were plans to enforce multi-finger verification system (MFVS) and live finger detection system (LFD).
He added that authorities were also discussing the “spillover of the blocking of Pakistan-origin SIM roaming facility in Afghanistan and Afghan-origin SIM roaming facility in Pakistan.”
The official said that “geo-tagging of MFVS and the verification” of Iris — the online portal for the filing of income tax returns - were also under way.
He said that the government had so far blocked 80,624 SIMs of non-KP women residents besides 112,320 SIMs issued against tampered Afghan passports and 4.5 million inactive SIMs across the country.
The official said that during the drive for blocking SIM cards, action was taken against 8,629 retailers and 95 franchises.
He added that the services of 24 staff members were terminated and five were arrested.
The official also revealed that the verification of “illegal” SIM cards issued across the country, especially in the newly merged tribal districts of KP, on the tampered Afghan passports was an issue.
He added that the “exaggerated” target by cellular companies was the main source of illegal SIM activation.
“There are geo-discrepancies in the issuance and verification of SIMs,” he said, adding that the way forward was the re-verification of all SIM cards issued across the country as well as the geo-based tagging of MFVS devices.
The official said that three GSM (Global System for Mobile) and two data SIM (co-sharing of towers) would be allowed for an individual.
He added that for foreigners living in the country, SIM cards would be activated on their visa and passports at the regional offices with the tagging of passports.
The official said that the federal government had planned to come up with a mechanism for strict checks on the import of SIM cards and their distribution to telecom companies.
Published in Dawn, October 3rd, 2023