Islamabad - Pakistan Telecommunication Authority, through a letter, has requested the interior ministry to carry out an audit of the biometric verification campaign ended on April 12.

“We have written a letter to the Ministry of Interior to appoint officials, who would visit the mobile operators’ offices along with PTA experts to carry out an audit of the whole process,” said an official adding, the purpose of this audit would be to verify the claims of mobile operators that they had biometrically verified subscriber identity modules (SIMs) and blocked those which could not be verified.

After the expiry of three-month deadline, the PTA on Sunday announced the ending of the biometric verification campaign. The authority also publicised that mobile phone companies had started blocking around 10 million unverified SIMs from Monday and the process of blocking unverified SIMs would be completed in two days.

The PTA also stated that around 78 million SIMs had been verified against 60,496,307 computerised national identity cards (CNICs), out of total 103 million unverified (biometrically) SIMs, during the campaign.

The verification was initiated by the government under the National Action Plan after the Peshawar Army Public School massacre in December last year when security forces found that the SIMs used by the terrorists were issued under fake names.

On the recommendation of the top spy agencies, the interior ministry geared up the biometric verification of the SIMs and directed all mobile operators of the country to re-verify all SIMs they had issued in past through thumb impressions. In order to verify SIMs, Nadra gave access to the database of citizens to mobile operators.

The whole process was carried out by mobile operators, while PTA acted as a liaison between PTA and Ministry of Interior/spy agencies.

During the campaign many questions were raised regarding the authenticity of the whole verification process.

About the query that whether this audit was based on those reports, the officials termed it a routine activity.

“Although the whole process was carried out by mobile operators themselves, however, we have been monitoring the situation closely and the Authority has physically checked 700 different locations across the country,” official said.

To another question that if PTA was checking the process why the retailers continued to charge people up to Rs.250 per verification against the announced fee of Rs.10, the official said that many such retailers were booked for overcharging.

Official revealed that due to the re-verification SIMs used by Afghan refugees living in the country had been registered.

According to the re-verified data around 35,000 SIMs are in the name of Afghan refugees residing in the country, whereas before the process a few hundred were in their name and majority of them were using the SIMs under fake names, official said.

Pakistan and Afghanistan share more than 2,500 kilometers-long border. There have been complaints that many of the attacks in recent years on Pakistani soil were allegedly planned and executed from across the border.

According to reports, the terrorists who carried out most brutal attack on Army Public School Peshawar had links in Afghanistan.

According to a report by The Guardian, Afghan security forces arrested five people suspected of being involved in the massacre from the eastern area bordering Pakistan.

As per report, all the arrested people were foreigners and they allegedly helped support the assault at the Army Public School, where 148 people majority of them children were brutally killed.

Afghanistan has not blocked the roaming of Pakistani SIMs inside the country while many of the Afghan SIMs are operational in border areas.

Afghanistan has yet to respond a Pakistani request to develop a mechanism for blocking each other's SIMs across the border.