Long queues are being witnessed at the centres of all cellular companies after the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) directed them to complete the re-verification process of subscriber identification modules (SIMs) through biometric devices by February 26, 2015.
There was unusual hustle and bustle at all such service centres, franchises, and authorised retail outlets that were equipped with biometric verification machines for SIM verification.
Special counters have been set up to facilitate citizens visiting the kiosks to get their mobile phone SIMs verified through fingerprints in collaboration with National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA).
A number of people who visited the outlets welcomed the government’s initiative to streamline records of mobile phone users and block un-verified SIMs, saying that it would help make society safe and crime free.
Aftab Raja, a customer, said it would help the government stop the misuse of SIMs, especially by terrorists.
He said it was a good move but the PTA should have taken this initiative much earlier.
Another customer Fazal Hussain said that he received messages from his network for biometric verification of his SIM, so that he could avoid getting his services blocked.
Being a businessperson, he said, he could not afford the communication gap with clients even for an hour, which was why he was getting his SIM verified.
Azeem Butt, another customer, complained that mobile phone companies were charging Rs. 20 for verification, which was unjust adding that they were already minting money in the name of different charges and offering packages with hidden conditions.
“Some cellular companies are charging Rs. 20, while a company is charging Rs. 50 instead of the Rs.10 fee fixed by the government for re-verification of each SIM,” Rida Mir, a housewife, complained.
She said it was the duty of the companies to issue new connections while completing all required formalities so charging extra money from customers was unjustified.
A staff member from one of the centres said that his company was making efforts to complete the task given by PTA within the timeframe outlined.
All unverified SIMs would be blocked by PTA after the expiry of the deadline, he added.