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SC orders govt to set up task force for crackdown on illegal SIM cards

30 November, 2013

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KARACHI: The Supreme Court (SC) has ordered formation of a task force comprising representatives of cellular companies, police, FBR and intelligence agencies under Pakistan Telecom Authority (PTA) chairman to block illegal mobile phone SIMs.

Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry issued this order while hearing the Karachi law and order case on Friday. PTA Chairman Ismail Shah told the court that activating more than two SIMs on one mobile or IMEI number will not be allowed on a single day. Moreover, he said, more than five SIMs won't be activated on a single national identity card. "In the first phase service providers will identify customers holding more than 10 SIMs," he said.

"Importing mobile phones without IMEI numbers will also not be allowed. Cooperation from customs authorities is needed to curb import of mobile phones without IMEI numbers," Shah said. Final recommendations would be evolved until December 17, he added. The court ordered that a task force should work out the final recommendations until December 17. "The task force report will be reviewed again in the next hearing after three weeks," the chief justice remarked.

To the court inquiry how and from where the machines which activate illegal SIMs had come into the market, the PTA chairman said the machines were recovered from illegal service providers. The larger bench of the Supreme Court ordered various measures to stop the use of mobile phone' SIMs in crimes and issued instructions to regulate the operation of cellular companies as per law.

The order was passed by the bench on Friday in connection with the implementation of its verdict in the case pertaining to law and order situation in Karachi.

It said, "In response to order dated November 28, 2013, the following arrangements of ad-interim nature have been arrived at between PTA and law enforcement agencies:

i) That not more than 2 SIMs would be activated per IMEI per day. ii) That it would not be allowed to activate more than 5 SIMs per IMEI. iii) That all the CMOs through the Pakistan MNP Database (PMD) Company will find out all those CNIC`s against whom 10 or more SIMs are registered. With the cooperation of PTA these numbers would be called and asked the secret questions (mother's name and place of birth). In case of correct answers they would be asked about the numbers issued against their names and the ones they want to keep up to maximum of five, while the rest would be blocked. In case of incorrect answer, all corresponding SIMs would be blocked. iv) All CMOs along with PTA will identify suspected numbers from the usage and location point of view and will close them down if after calling them the secret information is not verified. v) That CMOs will keep strict check on their retailers and franchises for conformance, especially keeping in view the information provided by LEAs and PTA. vi) That PTA will start process of type approval of phones. vii) That Customs authorities will not allow the import of phones without proper IMEIs."


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