Interior Ministry Wants to Re-Verify 140 Million Subscribers Through Biometric Verification in 28 Days

Interior Ministry has urged mobile phone companies to re-verify each and every mobile subscriber (somewhere around 140 million subscriptions) through newly installed biometric verification system (BVS) with-in 28 days and block all un-verified connections after the given deadline, according to our sources.

This was communicated to all five telecom operators in a meeting held yesterday at PTA headquarters. PTA, as a body that facilitates communication between telcos and government, told mobile phone companies of the wishes of Interior Ministry to which telcos said that the deadline of 28 days is simply impossible to meet.

One telco is even reported to have said in the meeting that shutting down their businesses in Pakistan is lot easier than re-verifying its entire customer base in 28 days.

Telcos have told PTA that verification of their user-bases in 28 days is an impossible task

As we told you yesterday, the issue of un-registered SIMs has been in spot light after recent attack on Army Public School in Peshawar. After finding out that there were five SIMs issued on a lady based out of Hasilpur in Southern Punjab, Ch. Nisar Khan, Minister for interior, had said that mobile phone companies should start a crackdown on unregistered SIMs.

It bears mentioning that since August 1st, 2014, all new SIMs and duplicate SIMs are issued after biometric verification of customers. However, old SIMs — that were already operating before August 1st, 2014 — aren’t verified through biometric verification system and they have now become the bone of contention.

The issue, highlighted after the Peshawer attack, has put the spotlight on old SIMs that were issued without biometric verification

Interior Ministry now wants telecom operators to arrange biometric re-verification of all SIMs in Pakistan, and only those connections that are re-verified should remain alive, while remaining all connections should be blocked for ever.

Telecom operators, who invested billions for the deployment of biometric verification system, are of the view that policy makers should come up with a well thought and comprehensive plan that should be the ultimate solution for complete elimination of un-registered SIMs.

They say that mobile phone companies are threatened time and again and are forced to invest repeatedly for similar initiatives (reference: banning pre-activated SIMs, setup of 789 call centres, 668 system and now biometric verification system) that are ultimately replaced with another new system.

Governments constantly changing requirements and unrealistic deadlines for compliance are starting to become a major issue for telecom operators in Pakistan

This has happened several times now during past 7 years. Telecom companies now want an ultimate and well tuned plan plus a guarantee from government that they won’t be asked again for a new kind of system in coming months just for the purpose of customer verification.

Telecom companies also stressed that deadline for removal of unregistered SIMs should be realistic so that everyone is able to contribute towards the elimination of un-registered SIMs.

Sources told ProPakistani that cellular companies are meeting Ms. Anusha Rehman, State Minister for IT and Telecom today to covey her industry’s concerns. Heads of mobile phone companies are scheduled to meet Mr. Nisar, Minister Interior, coming Saturday to finalize this plan for re-verifying all old and new SIMs through biometric verification system.

This is a developing story and will be updated as we get more information on it.

Tech reporter with over 10 years of experience, founder of ProPakistani.PK


  • Farhan Hashmi

    This is a good decision to save our life… but it is impossible within 28 days, bcoz telecom operators have very limited number of customer centre.

    • Guest

      It’s not about the number of customer centers. Rather it is about the awareness of the system. A person who bought a SIM 10 years ago, living in a village and don’t have a TV or any source how you will able to do this? #14Crore

      • crazy world

        He can go f himself thrice. Your argument is beyond rificulous. Without TV? Oh really? You have never been to a village in your life.
        Do you even realize that legal sims will not only stop terrorism but also crimes? I’d say, hang those as well whose sims were misused. Within minutes, even cavemen will come to the fore for verification.

        • Guest

          hmmm..!!! :D

        • Shahid Saleem

          hi, u r dum.

          tell us how legal sims will stop crime.

          imagine this scenario:

          it is saturday evening
          you are out with your friends
          suddenly you & your friends mobiles are stolen at gunpoint

          is this an unusual scenario? no! it likely happens in larger cities every week.

          how long before ALL of you & friends can report the theft? how long before the sims are all blocked? that is the how much time the criminals have to use your phones to make threats or whatever they want to do.

  • Guest

    not posible

    • ans

      Possiable,With NADRA Help…

  • JahanZaib Yousaf

    Very difficult
    Just Shut Down All the Sims ; :)

    Loag kud he akir open kirwa lain gai
    Bus Incomming on rehna do

    • zeb

      Agree.good idea

    • Bhai aapka incoming kisi aur k liye outgoing bhi to ho ga na, uss k baaray main kya khayaal hai?

      • JahanZaib Yousaf

        sure bahi
        Agir GOVT take this step
        pirh Telecos wala ghir mn bhi ja kir verify karain gai

        Telecos ne he sims blindly sell kii
        now it is their turn to fix it

      • Raheel

        That outgoing was from Landline.

  • Saad R.

    ahaa…. so they are following my 30 day advice :P

  • Nasir

    well a biased article toward the telecos, Govt is not demanding a new thing again, they are asking again and again to improve there verification system, on the first hand why did telecos issued so many unverified sims. its there fault and they should bear the damage.

  • Shahzad Afzal Awan

    Very very good decision and really appreciate…
    I will do my verifications again today…
    People please don’t wait, do your part…

  • Asif Wakeel

    All banks providing different banking facilities to their
    customers at doorstep, one is phone banking service, consumer can transfer of funds
    through this service, banks also provide through this service like funds transfer,
    issuance of cheque book and any other needs of consumer on just a call after
    verification.

    If banks may be provide these types of sensitive facilities
    why telecom operators cannot be confirm SIM ownership on phone after verification
    of subscriber data like CNIC, date of birth, place of birth, mother name etc.
    In this regard telecom operators can arrange a team especially for this exercise
    to call every subscriber and confirm SIM verification. Because lots of places especially
    remote areas have no customer facilitation center of any telecom operators or customer
    center is available but located is very far from subscriber’s residence, so,
    long distance issue to be arrived.

    • JahanZaib Yousaf

      saheeh kaha bahi app ne

      lekin ungli dena zarori hy us machine main
      Bcoz this is rule

    • Janjua

      All your data is easily accessible at union council level in a very small amount.. Yes your Date of birth, your place of birth, mother name, Dada’s name :)

      Its an overall information security nightmare in my country.. ever wondered how banks give out your details to “outsourced” partners for marketing new products, loans etc.. Privacy is a subject known by only a few!

      I can only blame the govt authorities that keep on passing the blame.. A common poor old lady can be easily trapped into a BISP scam for a 20K benefit and she will swipe her thumb 10 times for it! Only if such scams are taken seriously by those sitting in FIA cyber crime and the fraudsters are caught and punished… but there is not much “percentage” in such cases for FIA guys !

  • khan

    Well, the present situation do need more secure and controlled telecomunication. Being a loyal citizens we must support this idea of having each and every sim should be biometric verified. About objections from telecos, more important is our security not telcos interest. The whole nation should cooperate.

  • Zaik

    What about those SIMS registered with B-Form? They can’t be verified through Biometric system.

    • Zaik

      please someone answer me. @Aamir7

  • Jahangir Khan

    1: Technically, it is possible even in one week. How ? in the same way as Telcos make a target to sell 2 million SIMs (for example) in a week, and they setup their stalls on roads, traffic signals and public places. Same way they can set up their city-wide stalls in each city (for connectivity they can use their own USB GSM Modems or PTCL’s wingle etc.)

    2: Also they can verify without Bio-Metric. How? by following below methods:
    Subscriber will send below code to any designated number (e.g. 663):
    *ID_Card_No#
    Telcos will send back 5 successive SMSs, one by one, requesting below information:
    District of Birth
    Mother Name
    Date of Birth
    ID Card Issuance Date
    ID Card Expiry Date

    3: But Telcos will not do that even in 28 months, and they will keep making excuses. Why ? PTA Officials, FIA Officials and Telcos Sales Officials are involved in business of “Grey Traffic (illegal telecom traffic)”, by using those un-registered SIMs are registered in the name of people who actually are not using those SIMs and never know that there are some SIMs actually activated in their name and being used for an illegal business.

    Pak Army must punish those snakes in the arms.

    • farooq

      bahi sb say phelay to jo afganistan ki sims peshwer main sale ho rahi wo to aj tak control ni kr skay baki kai khak karain gay or ap sb jantay hain k puray world ki sims pak roming per chali ja skti hain so sim issue ni ha

    • nod64

      Let’s do the math shall we? 28 days x 12 hours per day x 60 mins per hour = 35,280 minutes. 140,000,000 subscribers/35,280 minutes = 3,968 subscribers per minute! Assuming all the telcos put together have a 1000 customer service centers nationwide that comes to 4 subscribers verified each and every frigging minute at each and every center throughout the working day for 28 days. Not possible.

      The good news is that group thinkers such as yourself are in high demand in that pak army you love so much. Go sign up immediately!

      • The leash u dont have yet

        Actually, rabid puppies like you need to be culled. Abusing the very force, which protects your ‘behind’, and that of your sisters and mum. Grow a pair and do the same in your nearest cantonement. You were in liquid form when I asked your parents to abort you. They did not listen. Now we have to suffer you because your parents did not use a contraceptive.

        Things like you deserve the force of Daish. And their fonication as well. You must learn first hand about the absence of an effective army.

        • Shahid Saleem

          Who let the dogs (you) out? nod64’s math is impeccable, YOU CANNOT DENY THAT IT IS IMPOSSIBLE.

          140 million verifications in 28 days if FIVE MILLION SIMS VERIFIED EVERY DAY.

          FIVE MILLION
          EVERY DAY

          Even your beloved military cannot handle that.

      • Umz

        Those last 2 sentences have no relation to the issue here.
        Keep that $hit inside you, and tape it.

  • Ali

    I strongly agree with re-verification of each and every SIM. But honestly, 28 days are too less for this type of task. There should be at-least 6 months, or 1 year for this process.

    • Crazy World

      Regardless of the deadline, they have not started the process. They will first waste time in settling a deadline. Shows how honest these companies are. Guess what? verified sims means they cant report extravagent sales to their blind and idiot investors/parent companies. So expect some significant resistance.

  • crazy world

    When we put finger for a verification, how do we know that they did not activate more than one sim? Million dollar question :D
    I’d say, we should first investigate / verify telco employees. Unless we remove dead dog from the well, the water will never be safe for consumption.

    I say reduce sim registration limit to ONE only. For more than one sims, customer should file an affidavit that he will keep ’em all secure.

    • Guest

      ONE SIM?? R U Crazy??? Why not limit to 0 zero SIM!! It will be all the way secure! It will lose million of rupees, not million but billions..!!!

  • jameel

    Baat ya nai h bhai baat 5 sims ki mera number abo k naam pa mera abo k naam pa already 5 sims hai or ab agar muja aga telenor sim lene ho tu on nai ho sakta tu un ko limit badha k ya kaam kar sakte or telecom company bhe Mann jayege

  • Saqib Lodhi

    Wow! Good work.

  • maulabus

    this is very simple. cellular comapines just send one sms on all sims that all user give them information of their sim numbers which they want to use in next 5 days or so (maybe in quantity like 5 max) when they got information company just give data to nadra and attach them with nadra biomatric. this is not a rocket science.

    • Hamid

      Did you know what “BIOMETRIC” is, I really doubt.

  • DJ

    24/7 -Working Time- and i think it can be fixed in 3 Months.. I know this is bit harsh step by Govt by Telcos should understand that Security of Citizen is very important than any excuse.
    P.S: “Every operator will be exposed on the number of Customers they are claiming once half of the sims will not be verified or may be suspended” :)

  • Labyrinth

    1.
    I believe the 28 days deadline is just a starter… Govt is apparently showing its seriousness to get the sims verified in shortest possible time…but they also know that it is impossible….so once the telcos agree for getting the bio-verification of existing sims and the process starts….this deadline will be extended offcourse

    because we happen to experience the extension dates of tax returns by FBR even when they claim that there will be no extension.

    2.
    Now talking about a loophole in the process of sim acquisition. As a rule, you cannot acquire more than 5 sims on your cnic (regardless of the fact if they are taken from a single or multiple providers). The process is….when you request for a sim, they send an sms (or request you to send an sms) to 668 to check how many sims are issued on your cnic. if the answer is 4 or less, they issue you a sim. But Interestingly, the database of 668 is updated after 15 days (or perhaps after a month) which means that you can acquire more than five in a single day from five different providers, and the next day you can again repeat the same procedure.

    the solution to this is real-time updatiopn of 668 database (which is probably maintained with PTA) so that it gets updated the very second a sim is activated on a cnic.

    Please correct me if i am wrong

  • Sajjad Khan

    very very very good decision, we should support the decision and Telecom Operators should implement as soon as possible, they should stop doing only business. In the world there is not system like this.

  • Kaukab Iqbal Chairman CAP

    PTA Chairman Dr. Ismail Shah should give the guide line to all Telecom companies without further delay for re-verifying all old and new SIMs through biometric verification system to save our nation , We as Consumers Association of Pakistan urge the Ministry of Telecom to plan awareness through Print and Electronic Media in this connection .

    • Labyrinth

      oh do we have a consumer association in Pakistan?…what’s your scope and how do u work?…can I know more about you guys?

  • Rehmat Ali

    Late but not too late?

  • Eli Ehsan

    ugh! not again.. why not BLOCK all Un-registered sims in one go! & see how many people turn up to verify their existence to Paki authorities. wouldn’t that be a realistic yet easy to achieve target?

  • aasim

    pehle to in companies k heads ko arrest kerna chahye .. k without verification inhon ne sims kyun sell ki.. it is necessary to verify each and every sim … they should take initiative . sab verify ho sakti hai ..

  • AGENT_X

    It is actually possible in one way. Just temporary close 1000 sims per small city and bigger amount in big city.no commercial cost require bcoz people communication is faster than commercials and other sources.

  • shahzad

    Why not completely change the pre-paid regime in Pakistan. and convert all pr-paid sims to post paid… Atleast we will be able to put the record straight. Moroever, 28 days timeline is not realistic…but it could be 90-120 days exercise in which telcos should be able to do it