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PHC Says SIMs easier to purchase than potatoes

Says SIMs easier to purchase than potatoes (PHC) on Tuesday directed the authorities concerned to draft legislations for combating the menace of illegal SIMs. The court was hearing a suo moto notice against the sale and easy availability of unregistered and illegal SIMs. During the hearing, PHC Chief Justice Justice Dost Muhammad Khan said SIMs were easier to purchase than potatoes. He said nearly one million Afghan SIMs were being used in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) alone and questioned how the Afghan SIMs were working across the border. “None of these SIMs can work without boosters and towers,” he said.

If an Afghan SIM is used in any terror attack, the related mobile company would be accountable for it, the judge said. He called for proper action against the companies assisting terrorists’ networks. The PHC CJ said the court should not be forced to cancel the licenses of cellular companies, adding that the country was witnessing devastation while the companies were running after the dollars. Justice Dost said, “Selling illegal SIM cards results in tax evasion worth millions of rupees and adversely affects the country’s security.” The court could not remain silent on the issue, he added. “Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) and SIM companies are not ready to take action against the open and illegal sale of unregistered SIMs,” Justice Dost said. During the hearing, PTA Director General (DG) Abdul Samad told the court that talks with National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) were underway over the increased use of illegal SIMs.

He said the PTA will soon introduce a fingerprint system in consultation with NADRA. The court ordered that the provincial government should collaborate with the PTA and the federal go government to launch an operation against illegally used Afghan mobile phone SIMs. Security agencies have repeatedly said that illegal SIMs were the key contributors to terrorist and criminal attacks across the country. The terrorists buy a SIM and throw it after utilising it, which makes it difficult to trace them.