ISLAMABAD: Biometric re-verification of 103 million SIMs till February 26, 2015 is not a child’s play for the cellular mobile operators in Pakistan.
“The cellular mobile operators have initiated the biometric re-verification process under government’s newly devised National Action Plan to counter terrorism, but despite all media campaign, the deadline is not practical,” said Khalid Hayat, a telecom professional.
He pointed out that many of the consumers are illiterate and many of them live in far-flung areas where they don’t have access to newspapers or other media.
Out of this 103 million SIMs, it is hard to believe that the message of PTA would reach all the consumers across the country and they would visit the re-verification facilities during the time period.
Rehan Ahmed, another professional, criticised the deadline set by the government.
“Like any other drawing room policy of the government, this new re-verification process is destined to be a failure.
Neither the consumers are educated before launching the campaign, nor does anyone bother to take telecom sector into confidence about the challenges.
Do they have facilities to accommodate huge influx of consumers?” he asked.
It is not the only hurdle, the experts believe, would hamper the process but they think that recent arrests of SIMs sellers by law enforcing agencies would not only undermine the whole process, but may also discourage cellular business in the country.
“The sale outlets have been reportedly visited by law enforcing agencies.
Some of the retailers have been arrested from different cities of Sindh, where law-enforcers confiscated the biometric devices and equipment along with SIMs, despite the fact they were appointed by cellular company, in compliance with the PTA rules.
Even cases were registered against some sellers.
This would only create fear among sellers and franchise operators, and they would start switching their business,” Arsalan Umar, an executive officer in a cellular company, said.
“This policy seems to be a knee jerk reaction, initiated without any homework; everybody in the country believes that terrorism must be ended from the country but it needs proper planning and homework; otherwise, it would be a time wasting exercise,” he added.