ISLAMABAD: The Senate Standing Committee on Information Technology (IT) on Thursday directed the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) to take back an order regarding blocking unregistered mobile phones from October 20.
Pakistan Peoples Party Senator Rubina Khalid raised the issue during a session of the Senate Standing Committee on IT today and said the PTA should explain the matter.
“The IT minister has not shown up to any meeting since the committee was formed,” the senator added.
Khalid, who is the chairperson of the Senate Standing Committee on IT, warned, “If the IT minister does not show up we will move a motion against him.”
The PTA chairman while briefing the committee said, “A system has been launched to verify unregistered and smuggled phones.”
However, Rehman Malik asked, “Why is the telecommunication authority verifying phone SIMS when it is the job of service providers? Are we regulating service providers?”
Malik further asked, “Why is a phone SIM registered 10 times? Mobile phone companies should be given the responsibility so they can be held accountable.”
“The IMEI number can be traced anywhere in the world. How can PTA regulate IMEI numbers? The PTA is violating international laws,” he asserted.
The PTA chairman then shared, “A new system is being introduced to stop the smuggling and duplication of IMEI numbers.”
He continued, “It is difficult to trace duplicate IMEI numbers and it also poses a security threat.”
Committee members then pointed out that the public was not properly made aware of the verification process. “There are messages floating around about sending an SMS to 8484 but the public is not properly aware of it and service charges are also being levied on sending the text message for registration of devices.”
Senator Shibli Faraz, who was also present at the meeting asked, “Why was no awareness programme run on television regarding this?”
The members further said that unregistered devices should not be blocked from October 20 and that the IT minister be present at the next meeting to present his policy.
To this, the IT secretary said, “Our rural public does not know about SIMs and mobile phones. They only know how to receive a call.”
The members further directed the mobile phone companies to present a detailed briefing at the next meeting and demanded that an awareness campaign be launched for the public.
On October 12, the PTA had directed mobile phone users to register their cellular devices with the authority. In a text message sent to mobile phone users, PTA had warned that non-compliant devices will not work after October 20.