PTA extends time for biometric verification of SIMs

KARACHI: The Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA) has decided not to block those mobile phone SIMs that have not yet been verified by Thursday midnight, the previously announced deadline for verification of three or more SIMs issued on a single CNIC.

“Subscribers need not panic. All unverified SIMs will not be blocked tonight. Even if some SIMs are blocked, users will still be able to have them reactivated,” said PTA Chairman Dr Ismail Shah.

Shah said that so far 10 million subscriber identification modules (SIMs) had been so far cancelled or disowned, while biometric verification of 72 million SIMs had been completed.

Shah said that, for the remaining unverified SIMs, subscribers will be individually sent SMS messages to go to their nearest cellular network franchise or retailer to verify their SIMs by a given deadline.

Failure to do so will result in blockage of those SIMs, he said.

However, users will still be able to claim and reactivate those blocked SIMs in the coming weeks, he added.

This entire process will continue for the next 2 to 3 weeks, said the PTA chairman.

The PTA chairman thanked all those subscribers who had taken part in the first phase of the verification process of over 100 million SIMs which began on 12 January.

The first phase targeted only those subscribers who had three or more SIMs issued on a single CNIC.

The second phase of biometric verification for individuals who have two SIMs issued on their CNIC will begin from February 27 and will last until March 14.

The national database from the biometric verification is being compiled as part of the government’s plan to curb terrorism in the wake of the December 16 Taliban attack at the Army Public School in Peshawar, which left over 130 schoolchildren dead.

Since the new measure was announced earlier this year, citizens have been lining up at cellphone stores, in front of mobile vans, and kiosks around the country to scan their fingerprints and verify their identities.