Sar-i-Pul residents want unregistered SIM cards deactivated
SAR-I-PUL (Pajhwok): Some residents of northern Sar-i-Pul province have complained about what they said unchecked distribution and use of unregistered Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) cards as some individuals use the illegal SIMs to create problems for others.
Habiba, a resident of Sar-i-Pul city, the provincial capital, told Pajhwok Afghan News she had consistently received calls from unknown phone numbers which were unregistered.
She said the calls from unknown numbers would come mostly at night time and it compelled her to change phone number or hand it to over a male family member to get rid of the disturbance.
A vendor, who sold unregistered SIM cards in Sar-i-Pul city but wished anonymity, said not only boys but girls also used illegal SIM cards. Some girls use to call boys and encourage them to send credit cards, he said.
However, Brishna Hazhir, a civil society activist, said in most cases boys were involved in harassing girls through unregistered SIM cards or fake Facebook IDs.
Mohammad Noor Rahmani, the provincial council head, said though the sale and use of unregistered SIM cards was considered a crime, many people in Sar-i-Pul and other provinces freely used them.
According to him, anti-government insurgents during the cold war also used such SIM cards for propaganda. He didn’t go into details.
Rahmani said one using an illegal SIM card couldn’t be identified during conversation and thus it was possible such SIM cards were used in crimes. Rahmani asked the Sari-i-Pul telecom department to prevent the selling of such SIM cards.
Hussain Qurbani, acting communications director, said his department had recently disconnected about 450 illegal SIM cards in the provincial capital and districts and the process was ongoing.
“We have warned the private telecom firms active in Sar-i-Pul against the selling of unregistered SIM cards. Violators will have to face the law.”
Currently, all telecom companies such as Roshan, Afghan Wireless, MTN, Etisalat and Salaam are active in Sar-i-Pul. Pajhwok tried to seek comments from the telecom companies about people’s complaints; however they refused to talk.
Reports say the problem of illegal SIM cards is not only confined to Sar-i-Pul province, but it is common in other provinces as well. A user was recently quoted in a report as admitting to having hundred of SIM cards registered in his name. He distributed the SIMS to shopkeepers and street vendors against 12 and 15 afs each. The vendors sold the card for 50 and 80 afghanis.
Sar-i-Pul governor Mohammad Zahir Wahdat said unregistered SIM cards were being transferred to districts from the provincial capital so their sales should be prevented in the provincial capital in the first place. The Ministry of Telecommunications and Information Technology (MoCIT) in coordination with telecom companies should jointly prevent the usage of such SIM cards, he remarked.
Mohammad Yasin, MoCIT spokesman, acknowledged the existence of unregistered SIM cards and commissions had been tasked in all the provinces with confiscating unregistered SIM cards.
He said the MoCIT had devised a new strategy on how to prevent the used of illegal SIM cards by the telecom companies. The method would be implemented next year, he said.
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