Blaming Telecom Companies for Terrorism is Madness!

Telecom industry of Pakistan is abuzz these days with re-verification of entire prepaid and postpaid subscribers with biometric verification of customers.

Telecom companies were again grilled by Interior Ministry as Peshawar Attack terrorists were found to have communicated through mobile phones and this is probably where government and security agencies found a way to distract the public from the real issue, i.e. a security lapse on LEAs’ part and instead started blaming cellular companies as the sole reason behind the attack.

Clearly they are not.

If telecom companies are the culprits, then so is SUZUKI as its van was used for terrorists’ transportation

Telecom companies are not culprits, especially when the SIMs used by terrorists were issued only after biometric verification. Not to mention, telecom companies handed over the record of purchaser and other details to law enforcement agencies within no time for further investigation.

If telecom companies are the culprits, then so is SUZUKI as its van was used for transportation. Now even a fifth grader will understand that blaming SUZUKI for the attack would be BS.

Here is the point: If terrorists want to communicate during an attack, they will communicate anyway. They can use Skype, Viber, satellite phone or any of the countless other wireless communication ways that are available.

Blaming telecom companies and terming them as sole responsible for attack is simply insane and will not help out our country in eliminating terrorism.

There is in fact this GSMA research available (PDF File — 5.14 MB), that suggests exactly I said above.

Terrorists who are determined to remain anonymous will use other means to obtain active SIM cards or simply buy them from abroad and roam on their own countries’ networks

GSMA, which studied as many as 15 markets, found out that mandatory SIM registration doesn’t help in reduction of terrorism and crimes. Research found that criminals and terrorists who are determined to remain anonymous will use other means to obtain active SIM cards or simply buy them from abroad and roam on their own countries’ networks.

Having said this all, registration and re-verification of all 140 million mobile phone users can be of good use. Not for the elimination of terrorism, but for state records and other hiccups, such as for identifying wrong calls, invading someone’s privacy and other small matters. But not for terrorism.

I also admit that telecom companies had their share of wrong-doings in selling unregistered SIMs, and they should be responsible for the correction in these records. But blaming them for a reason behind a terrorist attack is simply madness.

Pakistan Telecommunication Authority should play its role that is conferred to it by the Telecom Act, i.e. offering a level playing field for telecom companies. If not done rightly, we will only lose more.

Tech and telecom reporter for over 15 years

  • the truth is that cellular companies give away sims to anyone without verification so that the could just achieve their sales targets, if an ammunition sales man starts selling guns easily how would you feel then ? , my cousin lives in interior sindh and he has 9 sims to his name , he doesn’t knows how but they exist he has visited the officies of sim companies but they obviously wont block the sim as it would disturb the business

    • Sir guns aur SIMs main farq hay… And I am not advocating for telcos for selling SIMs like anything.

      I am just saying that celcos are not responsible for terrorism. Government’s policies and inefficient law enforcement agencies are.

      Moreover, making mandatory registration doesn’t reduce terrorism. Increasing your secret agency’s capabilities will.

      • I’d say they are not ‘solely’ responsible for terrorism. They should have updated data on customers for their own benefit as well, that cant hurt.

        Also its better to track terrorists as long as they use Pakistani sims, would be hell lot difficult tracking VOIP or other modes of communication. For all we know terrorists could use Thuraya or even long-range walkie-talkies.

        I think linking the issue together is not the best idea or a solution for that matter but having said that, it needs to be done and as quickly as possible.

        • This is exactly what I wanted to say, but didn’t just because people won’t understand. Its better to encourage the usage of Mobile SIMs for criminals/terrorists as this way you can track them better.

          Pakistani SIMs were the way CIA tracked Al-Kuwaiti and ultimately Bin-Laden. That’s the way.

          Having said this, verification of customers should be emphasized. It should be corrected to utmost levels.

    • I’m sorry I disagree. I have 8 SIMs running on my name, but that is because I activated most of them BEFORE the 5 SIM rule was introduced.

      Secondly, all the people having more than 5 SIMs – can ONLY not buy more SIMs, but they can keep using all the old SIMs, even if the number of SIMs account to 20.

      Lastly, If you send a text to 667 (or enter your CNIC on PTA’s website), you can know how many SIMs are running on your CNIC, and of which network, and you CAN go to their service centers, and get them to deactivate those SIMs. They’ll ask you to tell them which numbers do you own, and once you do, ALL OTHER NUMBERS, belonging to that specific network will be TERMINATED, AT ONCE.

      Please, Pakistani Qaum, FOR ONCE – STOP SPREADING FALSE CR/P!!! You and I both know that’s wrong what you’ve said, and SIMs can be blocked/terminated within 30 seconds of US reporting, WE have to take THAT STEP of reporting!

      I’ve been to all service centers, with my father, mother, several friends and NOT A SINGLE SERVICE CENTER said they won’t, or can’t, do it. No Excuses, They did it AT ONCE.

      Tip: Usually fake SIMs are issued on NICOP/POC holders, so all NICOP/POC holders, be it they’re in Pakistan, be it they’re abroad, should enter their NICOP details on PTA website and find that out. My Dad being a NICOP holder had 11 SIMs running on his name, despite of him not visiting Pakistan for over 16 years at that time.

  • The truth is TELECOM companies are providing SIM’s like TOMATOs and Potatos.
    Why not issue Single SIM to SIngle User?
    I know its responsibility of PTA to impose such rules but there is no CSR from Companies.
    Companies are not providing technology to Police depts to track caller in seconds.
    Where is social responsibility as i am studying this hell in every chapter of Management?

    • No, not to Police. Especially if they can sell my CDR to any TMH in Rs. 1,000.

      Telcos provide sufficient info LAEs, and there’s a law and everything is done under the law. Please consult someone before you put your opinion here.

      • Completely agree. All I can see on this blog is everyone, without any knowledge, is saying whatever he feels. It’s like them without seeing the moon are saying it’s square and it’s purple! This is what is called chawliyaan marna LOL.

  • I myself complainted and filled out the form of “Cleaning/Correction of Mobile SIM Record” to remove all the sims issued against my CNIC against a particular Mobile Operator, there were 2 sims issued but after complaining, now only 1 sim is removed and 1 still is showing again checking via sim information protal. Now should i again go for filling the for again or what.. no guide is available. So something is not right against on behalf of Mobile Operators

    • SIM Information Portal is ONLY updated Once every 1 – 3 years. It isn’t updated promptly.

      • i think it’s not, because when i removed sims from mobilink, they removed it(all sims, as i have no sim from mobilink) even from Sim information portal in 2 to 3 days, and when i remvoed it from ufone, they just removed 1 sim (1 is still there)and updated the portal in 24 hours.

  • TELCOS have stopped issuing unverified sims. But the sims they already distributed in the market in the 10 years before this law is causing nightmares for them.
    TELCOS can be blamed for not implementing a law, but can not be blamed for terrorism. By this idiotic logic the govt should first blame itself for making the roads which lead to places where terrorist attacks have happened.
    This reminds me of the monkey who was made king of the jungle.

    54. National Security.—(1) Notwithstanding anything contained in any law for the time being in force, in the interest of national security or in the apprehension of any offence, the Federal Government may authorise any person or persons to intercept calls and messages or to trace calls through any telecommunication system.

  • Its in the DNA of this nation to blame others for their own failures and the best example is our SECURITY and STATE leaders.

    It is well known that in past SIMS have been issued without proper verifications but the way GOV is presenting its case, it is nothing but putting its responsibility on others.

    God knows where the 900 Billion rupees of Defence and X-100 billion of Police and billions of Dollars given by USA and WEST are going.

    May be in some pockets !

      • you forgot to mention Army, actually they get dollars
        in last 10 years our Army get thousands of billion rupees or around 30 + billion dollars officially.

  • I have a question : How come progressive facebook/websites get block immediately while Jihadi websites and pages keep on working over internet ?

    PTA is nothing more of an electronic supporter of TTP.

    • Because we created TTP and many of us support TTP.
      In short who is TTP? answer is WE are TTP

  • بھائی اس کا ایک آسان حل یہ بھی ہے کہ تمام کمپنیز کو پابند کیا جائے کہ وہ سم صرف اور صرف اپنی فرنچائز اور سیلز اینڈ سروس سینٹر پر ہی فروخت کریں۔ پرچون کی دکان پر بھی سم مل جاتی ہے اور ان کے پاس بھی بائیو میٹرک سسٹم ہے فوری ایکٹو کرنے کے لئے، یہ چیز بند ہونی چاہیئے۔ اب سنا ہے کہ ایک بندہ ایک سم کی تجویز بھی زیرغور ہے۔ مطلب جس نے ضرورت کے تحت لے رکھی ہیں زیادہ سم اس کے لئے مشکل (اور ایسے بہت سے لوگ ہیں جن میں بزنس کرنے والے لوگ بھی شامل ہیں)۔ یہ چیز تو دنیا کے بدترین فساد زدہ علاقوں میں نہیں ہوتی جو یہاں ہونے جا رہی ہے۔ کنٹرول کرنا ہے تو جڑ کو ختم کریں نہ کہ جس شاخ پہ بیٹھے ہیں اسی کو کاٹ ڈالیں۔

  • The problem is sim cards are selling on roads at the cost of Rs, 10, this should not be happened although they are being sold after biometric verifications but in the tragic event of Peshawar last week, 5 sims were issued to one women at the same time so companies must have to watch any malicious customer

  • i see telcos have some sort of share in terrorism as they issued hunderd and thousands of sims before bio. for roaming just make it mandatory to activate sim with any telco before using it and telco will record the passport and visa info.

  • ProPakistani Why so much biasness?
    You know this is a real problem since 2007, 2008. These SIMs are being used as guns to kill people. The problem is these telcos are still involved in selling preactivated SIMs.
    Seeing the situation, this is really a crime and like aiding the enemy.

    • Only a mad man can say that Sims are used as guns. Can you please provide a credible source to back your claim?

      Yes Unregistered Sims is a problem, read last two paragraphs to gadge the magnitude of the problem they pose.

      • These SIMs can be used as bullets putting them in a gnd pressing the trigger.
        Before SIM cards they should stop ssmuggling of weapon from Afghanistan and supply from police.

      • It was figurative to say them guns. Govt is trying to regulate telcos since long in this matter. But what we see that franchises are caught with bundle of pre-activated SIMs.

        My real concern is that it is very easy for telcos to get details of customers identity and also their usage.
        => They know daily how much SIMs are activated and how much formailties are fulfilled.
        => They also know that how much SIMs are there which are still not registered and active.
        => Also, one person with 5+ SIMs in his name, they know it.

        These all things are just database management and any Computer/Software Engineer can do it easily. Then why Telecom Companies are not doing it?? Why don’t they blacklist the sellers who are not complying with rules or do not activate the SIMs activated without following proper method??

  • True! these companies give anyone there connections just to increase there users. Gives authority to sell to shop keepers. Yes they are equally responsible and should take measures.

  • We at NADRA are already updating fingerprints of people who’s cnic’s are near to expire or low quality. But verifying whole 147 million user base is a nightmare and not possible at all.

  • We are ignoring the role of PTA they were sleeping when telcos were distributing SIMs .. And they just support there favourite operators, customers cry but the PTA doesn’t listen ..

  • @Aamir Atta,
    In GCC countries Bangalis give SIM card for a few hours or days like on rent. Why a person will get it on rent and not legally. Now can’t one use these SIM in Pakistan?
    2nd what our illitrate generals and ppoliticians will do if terrorists start using voip for communication ?

    We all should read McGill research done for CIA, as we all are in shock after Peshawar just like Americans and world after 9/11. A illegal SIM on your name and these people, media and society will declare you worst terrorist deserving death by hanging.

  • Like all private & public sector business, the TELOS are also plauged by corruption.These companies have undermined security of the country by selling sims without any authentication or verification out of greed for business. The way they are doing business in all respects is MADNESS. You must not forget that all the bomb blasts on remote and convenient targets are used by mobile phones. The Telecons must be very strict and cancel all the shop keeper type agents. SIMS must be issued only at authorized centers no matter how difficult it may become to acquire a sim in Pakistan specially in war zone areas. We are in A STATE OF WAR and no compromise on security. Other countries specially middle east, it take few minutes to trace the person to whom the sim belonged. Giving example of a car is nonsense. Again the traffic & excise department are responsible to trace the owner of the vehicle involved. Thanks to corruption in our country ,here also one gets away. The Telecoms have responsibility for verifying & registering the SIM they issue. Unfortunately in this era of technology, a mobile phnoe sim has become a detonator of a bomb. It is MADNESS, what these telecons are doing right now.

  • 5 years back when the banks were approving loans like any thing they faced the same issue during the recoveries of debts.Just in order to secure themselves they re engineered the complete approval and verification process and today the recovery back of loans is improved just coz it was disbursed in the right hand.Same goes for the cellular companies.If they have a motive and sense of insecurity the other day it will be made sure that sims are issued through authentic sources.Thank you to the indirect channels , our franchise teams and retail sales people who are having the danda to achieve targets by any means.One more solution can be stop issuance of new sims .This will automatically reverse the process flow and all the sims issued earlier and inactive will be re registered to a new potential authentic and serious user and by default this would fix the majority issues in the process

  • Good article and I guess the concerned officials in the government need to think before they speak. blaming others to cover up their mistakes should be stopped now. Govt. officials should ban the arms and explosives rather than putting all the blame on Telecom Operators.

  • I would have respected the views in this article if telcos had zero unverified SIMs.

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