SC seeks PTA blueprint measures to stop grey trafficking

KARACHI: The Supreme Court of Pakistan on Thursday directed chairman Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) to submit a blueprint of its measures to stop grey trafficking and use of unauthorized SIMs by criminals to commit crimes, after holding a meeting with representatives of cellular companies and police officials.

A five-judge bench by Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry comprising Justice Jawad S Khuwaja, Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, Justice Amir Hani Muslim and Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan was seized with the hearing of Karachi law and order implementation case at the Karachi registry.

The Chief Justice observed that SIM cards of different companies were being sold in open market in unauthorized way, which facilitated the accused involved in heinous crimes including extortion and kidnapping for ransom.

Chairman PTA appeared before the court and submitted that PTA had forced the cellular companies to sell at least five SIMs against one identity card. He told the court that one of the cellular company was going to inaugurate biometric system by which SIMs would be issued after verification by Nadra.

Counsel representing cellular companies submitted that SOP and other directives were issued with regard to registration of SIMs, and all cellular companies were following SOP and those directives while a large number of unregistered SIMs have also been blocked.

Additional IG Shahid Hayat informed the bench that about 3000 activated SIMs were seized by the police along with China originated smuggled activation machines. He said that unregistered SIMs were being issued which were used mainly in extortion and kidnapping for ransom cases.

The bench observed that current registration system was deficient and required to be revised. Chief Justice remarked that if the stringent laws regarding registration of SIMs were followed and issued after verification by Nadra, 50 percent of the crime would decline.

The five-judge bench also expressed its concern over grey trafficking causing loss to the economy of the country. Chairman PTA told the judges that issue of grey trafficking had increased due to duty being charged on the calls made to abroad.

He said that PTA was making its efforts to beat the menace of grey trafficking, adding that it had also seized over 66 grey channels during the raids.

FBR placed on record the report showing details of daily clearance of goods from ports along with the record and manifest correspondence. FBR chairman Tariq Bajwa told the court that FBR was making all-out-efforts to deter tax evasion and due to the efforts of FBR, government had earned 24 percent more duty.

Chief Justice observed that if 100 percent duty is recovered, it would provide benefit to the country and Karachi. He directed FBR chief to bring some systematic improvement in duty collecting system and honest officers to contend with tax evasion and smuggling of arms and drugs.

The bench directed Attorney General of Pakistan and Advocate General Sindh to go through the report submitted by FBR and assist the court by suggesting ways and means adopted to take adequate measures to ensure 100 percent recovery of duty on goods.

The bench observed that black money generated through tax evasion and smuggling of weapons & drugs was causing loss to national exchequer besides fuelling crime.

The bench was utterly disappointed over report filed by Anti-Narcotics Force regarding operations conducted by it to control flow of drugs in the city. The bench also scolded ANF for not controlling drug business in the city.

Chief Justice said that ANF should have shown zero tolerance against drug dealers in the area and had launched the crackdown against criminals involved in drug business.

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