ISLAMABAD: With many customers lining up outside offices of mobile operators in a bid to get their SIMs biometrically registered, Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) on Friday revealed that the government had never set any deadline.
Briefing the media on Friday, PTA chairperson Dr Ismael Shah admitted that the supposed February 26 deadline had been advertised to get users register their SIMs. Flanked with federal minister for information technology, Anusha Rehman, PTA chief added that the deadline was an internal arrangement.
“Had we not played the tactic of February 26 deadline, very few people would have come forward for verification of the SIMs,” he said. The relevant authorities also held that a deadline set by interior ministry was set to lapse on April 12 and there are bright chances that the remaining process would be completed by then.
The exercise of having to verify SIMs using biometric came after the devastating attack on the Army Public School in Peshawar that left nearly 150 people dead.
PTA officials clarified that the process will continue beyond the ‘defunct deadline’.
Cellular companies had earlier requested the PTA and IT ministry to give them one year to complete the verification process but were told to speed up the process. Recently, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan told the National Assembly that cellular companies were strictly asked to abide by the deadline.
Minsiter of State for IT Anusha Rehman said that “this verification process is one of those National Action Plan’s points which is being addressed on priority basis.”
Sharing the figures, Dr Ismael Shah said that during the last week (Feb 19 to Feb 25), PTA had verified around 62.74 million SIMs against 47.75 million CNICs. Shah said 10.4 million SIMs were disowned by some owners and asked for their SIMs to be blocked.
He added that a whopping 2.27 million SIMs were verified on February 25 alone, while 2.5 million were verified on February 23.
Dr Shah said that in next two to three weeks messages will be sent on unverified SIMs to remind users to register their SIMs.
He added that the PTA has also framed SoPs for one year temporary verification of SIMs held by overseas Pakistanis. The decision was taken to give benefit those who are abroad and are using SIMs on roaming.