Mobile phone companies in Pakistan have collectively verified 17 million SIMs with newly installed biometric verification system through the natural process since it was made mandatory in August 2014, we have checked with sources.
Not to mention, SIMs in Sindh and Balochistan were being verified through biometric verification system since April 1st, 2014.
These 17 million biometric verified SIMs include new sales, SIM replacements and MNP requests that were entertained only after biometric verification of customer.
It won’t be out of place to mention here that a customer who verifies his/her identity for a single SIM issuance then all other SIMs on his/her CNIC are automatically verified, to take the total count to 17 million verified SIMs.
Additionally, 0.1 million new subscribers are being added every day through BVS, which means 3 million subscribers are naturally verified through biometric verification system every month.
If not halted or disturbed or pushed, this natural process of verifying customers through biometric verification system will take less than 3 years to re-verify each and every customer in the country.
Sohaib Sheikh, an expert on telecom matters, said that a cellular SIM has a limited life and is bound to be re-placed by the customer after a certain duration.
He said that for majority of customers (i.e. for more than 90% customers) a SIM has to be replaced for various reasons including stolen phone, SIMs lost, MNP requests or just because SIMs get too scratched and becomes unusable.
He opined that since the process is in place and there is no way of getting a SIM replacement without biometric verification of customer, the natural process will automatically ensure that more than 90% of customers will be reverified in less than three years. That is, without a dedicated drive for reverification of customers.
Not to be mentioned, since the rule of maximum of 5 SIMs on single CNIC is in place, there is a huge chunk of subscriptions that get washed-out automatically as customers get their old unused numbers blocked at time time of issuance of new SIMs if the SIM-count on single CNIC exceed the limit.
Clearly, the present system will re-verify all customers with-in next few years and while we also know that cent-percent reverification of SIMs will not decrease terrorism or crimes, it is now up to the government that how do they want this to happen: In 28 days with a lot of investment and hassle involved with no help in reducing terrorism or in 2-3 years through a natural process that will yield them the same results.