Lahore: Govt to crackdown on illegal phone operators
LAHORE: While the telecom sector is trying to form a single International Clearing House (ICH) primarily aimed at curbing gray traffic, the Ministry of Interior has come down hard on parallel private telephone exchanges by recommending to enhance the sentence for violators from three to seven years and fine of Rs10 million to Rs50 million besides making it a non-bailable offence.
Grey traffic is the parallel illegal arrangement of routing international calls coming into Pakistan and operators resort to it without a licence or a huge investment or a set up. They just need to have a room with some equipment and an international carrier who is willing to give them business at reduced rates compared to other registered long distance international operators (LDIs).
Several other decisions of significant nature have also been taken at a high level meeting chaired by Interior Minister Rehman Malik and attended by secretary of interior, secretary of information technology (IT), DG FIA, representatives of Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) and other government departments.
Official documents available with The News reveal that the Ministry of Information Technology (IT) has been requested to move for sanction of funds to increase the capacity to monitor gray traffic, which is presently only 30 pc. There will be zero tolerance for gray traffic in Pakistan and its progress and monitoring would be jointly carried out by the secretary interior and secretary information technology.
In order to encourage the people by offering incentives, it was also decided in the meeting that Rs20 million cash reward will be given to anyone who will point out the gray traffic to the authorities and 10% of the recovered money will also be given to the informer.
For the effective implementation and enforcement of these decisions, a task force has been announced headed by Director FIA Shahid Nadeem Baloch and sub task forces comprising representatives of ISI, IB, PTA and local police will also be constituted. The task force will submit fortnightly progress reports.
The mobile operators/service providers have been advised to exercise extra caution/due diligence before issuance of such SIM cards as they will be liable for legal action as recommended by the task force.
Since the ‘V fone’ system is being used by gray traffickers, it was decided that more than three lines by an individual/premises/department will have to obtain an NOC from the PTA and its information would be supplied to FIA. A copy of the daily monitoring report of the PTA would be supplied to the FIA directly with a copy to the Ministry of Information Technology.
The meeting observed that the recent blockage of unauthorized SIMs will have a positive impact on reduction of gray traffic. Public has been advised that all those who have got more than the prescribed limits of SIMs should surrender immediately to PTA as a thorough scrutiny of the SIMs has been ordered and anybody found in possession of those SIMs will be proceeded against in accordance with the law.
It has also been decided that people will be approached through public appeals that if they get any international call coming to their mobile or land line phone through a local number it should immediately be reported to the telephone numbers and cell numbers of the authorities concerned while their names will be kept secret.