Pakistan blocks 26m SIMs following re-verification drive

13 Apr 2015

Pakistan’s cellular operators are to block a total of 25.9 million unverified or disowned SIMs as a result of the recently concluded re-verification programme, ProPakistani writes. Customers confirmed 71.1 million SIMs through the course of the 90-day project, whilst 16.7 million SIMs were rejected by customers as they were wrongfully registered to them, or were no longer in use. A further 9.2 million SIMs were not verified by the deadline and will be blocked. The re-verification drive was ordered by the government following a terrorist attack on a school in Peshawar in December 2014, during which it was revealed that the terrorists had used phones with verified SIMs. The drive required customers to confirm their identity via a biometric scanner, which checked their thumbprint against the data registered to their computerised national identity card (CNIC). Sector watchdog the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has called the programme a success, although many remain sceptical of the impact the crackdown will have on terrorism in the region.

Norwegian-owned Telenor reportedly blocked the most SIMs, according to unofficial and unconfirmed data sent to ProPakistani by a PTA source, with 8.53 million rejected or unverified, whilst market leader Mobilink was a close second, disconnecting 7.55 million. China Mobile’s Zong and Ufone, the wireless arm of fixed line incumbent Pakistan Telecommunication Company Ltd (PTCL), blocked 4.5 million and 3.86 million respectively, whilst 1.65 million Warid SIMs were blocked.