ISLAMABAD - Interior Minister Rehman Malik said on Thursday that over-the-counter sale of mobile phone SIMs would be banned from next month, and the cellular companies would be required to dispatch the purchased SIMs at the customer’s address.
Talking to reporters after a high-level meeting at his office, Malik said a “third power” had planned to create conflict between Shias and Sunnis during the holy month of Muharram.
He said that no one would be allowed to use satellite phones without registering with the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA). Similarly, the PTA has been given the deadline of December 31 for registering prepaid SIMs, the interior minister said, adding that after the deadline, the unregistered SIMs would be blocked. He said that SIM portability, ie switching from one network to another, was being banned immediately. He said that in future, mobile SIMs would be issued against computerised national identity cards or utility bills. He further said that all religious TV channels would be suspended during Muharram. He said the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) should take necessary measures for enforcing these instructions.
Malik said video-sharing website YouTube would be opened after the blasphemous content was removed.
Responding to a question, he said that security would be beefed up in sensitive areas, besides air surveillance of those cities which were under threat of sectarian violence during Muharram. He said there was popular public demand for unblocking Youtube, adding that the video sharing website would be reopened only when all anti-Islam matter would be removed from it. However, he added that a committee under the interior secretary had been formed to procure software for blocking selected content.