PESHAWAR - Peshawar High Court (PHC) Chief Justice Dost Muhammad Khan on Tuesday ordered action against illegal Subscriber Identity Modules (SIMs) in the province. He ordered for making legislation and evolving a strategy to stop usage of Afghan SIMs in Pakistan.

The two-member bench headed by Chief Justice Dost Mohammad and Justice Qaiser Rasheed stated that if a company’s SIM is used in terrorism, bomb blasts or any other criminal activities then the company will have to pay for damages of property and compensating victims as well.

During proceedings of the suo motu case pertaining to illegal SIMs, Chief Justice Dost Muhammad remarked that illegal SIMs were being used in terrorist activities. He said that the IB, ISI, FIA and cellular phone companies should decide a course of action in this regard.

Justice Dost Muhammad remarked that SIMs were being sold like potatoes. “One person had 52 SIMs while nearly one million Afghan SIMs were being used in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa,” he added.

The PHC directed the authorities concerned to draft legislations for combating the menace of illegal SIMs. The court questioned how the Afghan SIMs were working across the border. “None of these SIMs can work without boosters and towers,” PHC Chief Justice said. The court observed that the court should not be forced to cancel the licences of cellular companies, adding the country was witnessing devastation while the companies were running after the dollars.

During the hearing, PTA Director General Abdul Samad told the court that talks with National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) are underway over the increased use of illegal SIMs. He said the PTA would soon introduce a fingerprint system in consultation with NADRA. The court ordered that the provincial government should collaborate with the PTA and the federal go government to launch an operation against illegally used Afghan SIMs.

Moreover, the court directed the federal, KPK governments and PTA to make legislations in this connection to stop usage of illegal SIMs as well as Afghan SIMs in Pakistan.  PHC Chief Justice Khan said selling illegal SIM cards results in the evasion of millions of rupees in taxes and could negatively affect the country’s security. “The court could not remain silent on the issue,” he added.

The court directed the authorities concerned to make a comprehensive report and that should be present to the court on October 2 next. The PHC has taken suo motu notice of the illegal sale of mobile SIM cards in the country, particularly in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa last Friday.