An investigation report by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) presented in the Peshawar High Court (PHC) revealed there are 40,000 Subscriber Identification Modules (SIMs) of Afghan companies operating in the tribal areas and parts of Khyber- Pakhtunkhwa (K-P).
The report was presented to a two-member bench comprising Chief Justice Dost Muhammad Khan and Justice Asadullah Khan Chamkani in the hearing of a suo motu case on the use of illegal and Afghan SIMs in K-P and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata).
National Accountability Bureau K-P Director General, DG Federal Investigation Agency, representatives of Inspector General of Police and all cellular companies appeared before the court.
The report said Afghan SIMs are being used in some parts of the tribal areas. SIMs are also operating through international roaming, provided by cellular companies in Pakistan.
“The illegal SIMs of Afghanistan-based companies are largely being used in terrorism, extortion and other heinous crimes. There is no written agreement from Pakistani companies to provide roaming services to cellular phone companies of Afghanistan,” the report said.
The proceedings in the case were brought to a halt by the Supreme Court on October 21, after the PHC issued bailable arrest warrants for the chief executive officers of all cellular companies on October 2.
Justice Khan said they did not want to discourage foreign companies from investing in the country, but would not allow anyone to put the security and lives of people in danger.
A representative of a cellular company said Pakistan Telecommunication Authority had blocked around 22.59 million unregistered SIMs in the last five years. He also said phone companies are introducing a biometric system for the issuance of SIMs in the future, which would require a thumb impression of the SIM holder.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 24th, 2013.
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