PTA blocked 4m SIM cards in past six months, Senate panel told

ISLAMABAD-A Senate panel was Tuesday informed that Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has blocked four million SIM cards in the last six months due to various reasons, while there are 191 million mobile users in the country. 
The Senate Standing Committee on Cabinet Secretariat, that met under the chairmanship of Senator Rana Maqbool Ahmad, also discussed Kunda culture in Karachi and ways to tackle this challenge, improper billing, and taxation (on the electricity bills). The meeting was convened to address various legislative matters and concerns affecting the nation. The committee discussed and made significant advancements on multiple bills and issues that hold substantial importance for the country.
“The Akhuwat Institute Kasur Bill 2023” was unanimously passed during the meeting. This is considered as a remarkable step towards promoting education and empowerment. Senator Irfan-ul-Haq Siddiqui’s diligent efforts paved the way for the bill’s passage. Additionally, “The International Islamic Institute for Peace (IIIP) Bill, 2023” and “The National University of Health, Emerging Science and Technologies Islamabad Bill, 2023” were conditionally passed, pending submission of required documents to the Higher Education Commission (HEC).
The committee also received a comprehensive briefing from chairman PTA, shedding light on the authority’s performance and functions over the past two years. Concerns raised by legislators regarding communication issues on roads and motorways prompted chairman PTA to highlight the ongoing efforts to enhance connectivity. The chairman PTA highlighted that PTA oversees 2,000 licensees across various sectors, serving 191 million mobile users and 127 million broadband subscribers. Notably, the authority has blocked 4 million SIM cards in the last six months due to various reasons. Fiberisation challenges were acknowledged, and the chairman PTA emphasised the need for easing fiberisation processes to address ongoing difficulties the PTA is facing. Senator Mushtaq Ahmed brought attention to crucial areas such as cyber-security, unlawful content on social media, individual privacy, and consumer rights. The chair sought recommendations for addressing issues of PTA, to be submitted in written form to the committee.
The committee also engaged with officials from Naya Pakistan Housing Authority, urging them to ensure proper maintenance and transparency. The officials were assured of the committee’s support in facilitating the Housing Authority’s goals and meeting financial constraints. The committee also discussed Kunda culture in Karachi and ways to tackle this challenge, improper billing, and taxation (on the electricity bills) issues with DG NEPRA. The taxation levied on electricity bills was highlighted, and the DG NEPRA clarified the legal context of these levies. Efforts to curb malpractices in Discos were proposed for future deliberations.
The meeting concluded with discussions on the public safety campaign against cylinder blasts. The officials from OGRA apprised the committee of their public awareness campaign. The chair emphasised the importance of public awareness and encouraged OGRA, Law Ministry and Cabinet Division to expedite the law-making process to ensure the safety of citizens. An innovative public awareness campaign involving a caller tune was noted as a step towards ensuring public safety while using cylinders. Senator Danesh Kumar’s inquiry regarding the number of posts in each department advertised by FPSC, the number of candidates recommended by FPSC with a quota-wise break was disposed of to the satisfaction of the mover while the resolution moved by Senators Danesh Kumar and Gurdeep Singh concerning the equitable distribution of reserved job quotas for minorities in each province was deferred for further consideration. The representative from Establishment Division apprised that significant strides, encompassing eighty percent of the task, have already been accomplished in this regard.

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