The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) was supposed to have completed the system of biometric SIM verification by now, but it has been delayed. The biometric SIM verification system was required for purchase of new connections. The delay had been caused by the absence of decision-making officials at the PTA. The other parties concerned with this new system to be introduced, both the National Database Registration Authority (NADRA) and the telecom companies are all prepared for this new system to take over.
The absence of officials has been caused by the internal problems that PTA has been going through one after the other. After the dismissal of the former chairman Farooq Awan by the Lahore High Court and the retirement of the member finance, there is no official which can make the decision on part of the PTA. This lack of service and system within PTA has been going on much due to bad governance and influence of political factors in the body and its proper functioning.
An unnamed official from the PTA has revealed to the reporters that the consultation process is on-going with all five telecom companies and will be forwarded to the Prime Minister for extending the deadline of installing biometric SIM verification system. According to the NADRA officials, telecom companies integration and testing has been successfully completed and a backend software was prepared for this. The tests for fingerprint data collection and verification have been done on NADRA devices and on other standard devices and they have been successful.
NADRA has also recommended devices which will have security features and better performance. However, despite being aware of these technical aspects, the telecom companies cannot make a decision on their own as to which devices they can choose without the affirmation from the PTA, which has been absent. These NADRA recommended devices are in the range of less than $100. Also, telecom companies can also order devices directly from manufacturers once the PTA has given its approval.
Although this directive of using biometric SIM verification came from the Interior Ministry, but in it so far, it has not been involved in overseeing that the measure is being carried out by the PTA, which is often influenced in its operations by the ministry. The end to the delay in this new biometric SIM verification system as of now, since the elections are near and the new government might have its own ways to take security measures. Hopefully, the next government be a little more business-oriented as well, which would not adversely affect telecom companies operations.