ISLAMABAD - Hundreds of National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) account-holders in Islamabad and Rawalpindi have been inconvenienced because the NBP has failed to restore the inter-bank ATM service suspended some four months ago after a fraud. The main victims are serving and retired government employees whose accounts number over one million salary/pension accounts maintained by the bank. The NBP subscribes to an inter-bank facility, One-Link, which allows NBP account-holders to use their ATM cards at the ATM kiosks of the 15 largest banks around the country for cash withdrawal/transfer. However, the service was suspended on March 14 following a theft of millions of rupees by unidentified cyber criminals through ATM cards. The criminals hacked the PIN codes of many NBP account-holders and broke through security checks to withdraw money from various kiosks. The bank management had announced its intention to restore the One-Link service shortly but months later this has yet to happen. As a result, NBP account-holders have been deprived of the facility to withdraw cash from other banks' ATMs and with few NBP ATM kiosks in the twin cities, problems abound. These issues have been further exacerbated by the concentration of the NBP machines in five areas, the Pak Secretariat, F-6 and G-6 areas of Islamabad and in Saddar and Cantonment areas of Rawalpindi. Regrettably, many of the machines are often out of order or cashless, especially during early days of month. Jawad Cheema, a retired government employee from I-8/4, said that he had been an account-holder at the NBP for many years because the government transferred his salary and pension through NBP. He added, "In my old age when my mobility is restricted, the ATM card meant that I could withdraw my pension with ease from a nearby ATM kiosk. But for the past many months, I have had to travel on public transport to withdraw money from an NBP branch." He said the bank officials had been promising early restoration of the service since March but this had not happened yet. He said he was seriously thinking about switching to some other bank for convenience. Another account-holder, Qasim Jan, who stood in a queue outside the NBP ATM kiosk in the Melody Market, said that the State Bank of Pakistan should step in to redress the situation. He added that the bank management's failure to facilitate its account holders through alternative arrangements had exposed its claims of focusing on client service as mere eyewash. An employee of the NBP, Melody Branch, revealed that the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) was investigating the unlawful withdrawal of cash from the bank's ATM machines. He said that until the investigation was completed, the One-Link service would remain suspended and only the bank's top management or the FIA officials could say how long the investigation would continue. In response to whether NBP would arrange mobile ATM machines for its account holders in the twin cities, he said that there was no such plan. One wonders how long the account holders must wait before their problems are addressed.