Pakistan is aggressively executing the national plan to fight terrorism after the gruesome attack by Taliban militants recently which killed 150 students and teachers last December. Pakistan has swung into action and introduced a new biometric system. The government has ordered existing cellphone users to get their identities verified in a bid to curb issuing SIM cards with fake identities, the Washington Post reports. Also Read - 69 percent Pakistanis don't know what the internet is: Survey
The move is sparked by the fact that Pakistan has nearly 103 million SIM cards which interestingly is almost same as the country’s population. Many of the SIM cards are suspected to be unverified and might not have been registered in a proper manner. Mobile companies are given a deadline of April 15 before which the entire biometric procedure should be completed. Also Read - Pakistan set to launch space program, to keep an eye on Indian side: Report
India undertook a similar exercise a couple of years ago when it made mandatory that the retailer should be held responsible for physical verification and unlike before the SIM card would be activated only once the documents are verified which would take 2-3 days. In fact the telecom operators were fined to a tune of Rs 2,179.41 for violating verification guidelines. Also Read - Technology blamed for spike in Pakistan HIV rate
The biometric verification started six weeks ago has already 38 million people verified through the biometric screening. If users don’t get the mobile connections verified then the mobile companies will shut off the services. Users are expected to visit nearby mobile stores and get the numbers verified.
The subscriber’s fingerprints will be matched with a national database. Suppose the mobile users have not yet registered for the database than they are expected to do so before getting the cellphone numbers verified.
The problem with the verification process is that Pakistan lacks the infrastructure in many areas and the verification process needs to spread across all the parts of the country independent of the terrain and the conditions.
“It’s a massive, nationwide exercise with a tight deadline, but hopefully we will be able to verify our customers by the April deadline,” Omar Manzur an executive with Mobilink, told the publication. “We have sent out 700 mobile vans all across Pakistan to reach out to these far flung areas, the villages and towns.”