ISLAMABAD: Following directions from the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA), cellular mobile operators (CMOs) have finally blocked 45,000 Afghan SIMs operating in the country and submitted a compliance report to the regulatory authority.
Sources in the CMOs told Daily Times that the mobile phone companies have blocked roaming facility on more than 45,000 Afghan SIMs. They said the CMOs have submitted compliance report to the PTA on Tuesday. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had directed this task be completed in two days. The aim is to impede communication between the terrorists and reduce crimes such as kidnapping for ransom. The premier ordered the suspension of roaming service of Afghan SIMs on the request of the law enforcement agencies because of rising security issues.
So far, besides some investigating agencies, the governments of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Sindh are also reported to have asked the federal government to suspend roaming on Afghan SIMs. Interestingly, the PTA had declined in January this year a NAB request for information about roaming service on Afghan cellular mobile operators in Pakistan, saying, “Cellular mobile operators do not need to submit international roaming agreements to PTA for approval as this roaming is a value-added service and not mandatory.” The National Account Bureau (NAB) had sought information about mobile operators and their international roaming services because of a case in the Peshawar High Court. Sources in the law enforcement agencies said that communications between the criminal elements located in Pakistan has so far been made possible only with Afghan mobile SIMs, as these SIMs function in the Pak-Afghan border areas. The business community believes that Pakistan has been bearing a heavy brunt of terrorism which, to some extent, is the result of easily available illegal arms and SIM cards.
Thousands of SIMs of Afghan mobile companies have been operating inside Pakistani territory and using international roaming services to make and receive calls. Apart from this, the SIMs also work on their local Afghan networks in certain FATA regions which are close to the Afghan border.
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