PTA told to block Afghan SIMs
In an effort to block anti-state and criminal activities of terrorists in Pakistan using foreign Sims, the government has directed the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) to disable roaming facility on Afghan Sims.
A statement issued by the Prime Minister House on Saturday said the directive was given on a request by law-enforcement agencies. The premier said the task should be completed in the next few days. The government believes the decision will help impede communication between terrorists and reduce crimes involving kidnapping for ransom, extortion and acts of terrorism.
According to a source in the PTA, the roaming facility for Afghan mobile phone companies, widely available in Pakistan, is being misused, particularly in tribal areas. The use of Afghan Sims has become a significant threat to Pakistan’s security.
this decision is likely to assist the Pakistan Army, which has launched Zarb-i-Azb operation in North Waziristan, in preventing militants from maintaining contacts among them.
PTA Official said:
40,000 and 50,000 Sims of Afghan telecom companies were functional in Pakistan and most of them were used in acts of terrorism, kidnapping for ransom and extortion.
The matter of blocking of roaming service of Afghan Sims in Pakistan was taken up time and again by the Senate and National Assembly committees on information technology and telecommunications.
Members on various occasions requested PTA Chairman Dr. Ismail Shah to discontinue the service, which was believed to be misused by the kidnappers and extortionists alike. He had also been informed that in the case of Pakistan and India there was no mutual roaming agreement and under an understanding both countries had not allowed their telecom operators to erect telecom towers in areas near the border.
However, Dr. Shah said on all the occasions that such decisions were outside the mandate of his office. He had informed the committee members that the decision to discontinue or block roaming service of Afghan companies could only be taken up at the government-to-government level.
The PTA chairman had also argued that if roaming facility of Afghan Sims in Pakistan was blocked, Afghan government might reciprocate and Pakistani Sims might become non-functional in Afghan territory.