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Pak completes biometric verification of mobile SIM cards

Press Trust of India  |  Islamabad 

Pakistani authorities today said they have authenticated 75.5 million SIM cards through biometric verification under a plan to stop their use in terrorist attacks triggered by mobile phones.

The Biometric Verification System (BVS) was introduced after several mobile phone connections issued to unknown persons were used in several terrorist attacks in the country, forcing authorities to go for mandatory verification in December following the Taliban attack that killed about 150 school students in Peshawar.

The ministry of information said in a statement that May 15 was last date for verification of SIM cards.

"Out of target 103 million active SIMs, 75.5 million SIMs have been re-verified while 27.5 million active SIMs have been blocked," it said.

As part of the implementation, the Ministry of Information Technology (MoIT) and Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) undertook measures to make the process smooth and transparent and also to facilitate general public awareness.

Extensive awareness campaigns through SMS, electronic (TV and radio) and digital media were run.

In addition, an alternate verification process was deployed to facilitate the aged, disabled and overseas Pakistanis.

Initially, MoIT and PTA were tasked to carry-out verification of all existing SIMs through BVS in January 2015 but later it was extended till April 12.

The process was again extended for certain categories till May 15 and now has been finally completed.

The government has also asked PTA to carry-out a third party audit of the whole exercise to verify its authenticity and the Expression of Interest (EoI) for hiring of a third party auditor has already been floated.

Officials believe that the re-verification drive will check the use of SIM cards for militant activities.

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First Published: Sat, May 16 2015. 18:32 IST