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Issue of Afghan Sims to be discussed

By Jamal Shahid 2016-07-16
ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) will talce up with its Afghan counterpart the issue of mobile phone subscriber identity modules (Sims) from the neighbouring country being used in Pakistan`s areas near the border.

PTA Chairman Dr Ismail Shah said at a press briefing on Friday that mobile phone signals from Afghanistan continued to find their way into Pakistani territory. The international roaming facility for Afghanistan-based phone service operators in Pakistan may be disabled but the spillover of signals makes Afghan Sims usable in settlements near the border.

Dr Shah said the chief of the Afghan telecommunication authority would visit Pakistan to attend an Asia-Pacific regulators` roundtable being held here from July 18 to 22.

The occasion will allow both sides to discusshow to solve the problem.

Dr Shah said the PTA had contacted the Afghan embassy through the Foreign Office in the past to resolve the issue of coverage of Afghan phone operators in Pakistan, but to no avail.

In emails exchanged between the PTA chairman and his counterpart in Afghanistan some five months ago, the latter had assured the former of taking measures to address the concernsofPakistan.

According to the PTA, Afghan Sims have been used in Pakistan for illegal activities such as extortion, kidnapping and even terrorism.

Pakistani operators are allowed to offer roaming service in Afghanistan. International calls can also be made from Afghan mobile or landline phones to any Pakistani number.

Mobile telecom operators, internet service providers and representatives from academic institutions will attend the sixth ITU-PTAAsia-Pacific Regulators` Roundtable.

Dr Shah said representatives from 23 countries from the region would attend a training programme being jointly organised by the PTAandtheInternationalTelecommunication Union (ITU).

`The 6th roundtable event will provide telecom and information and communication technology regulators in the region a platform that fosters dynamic and strategic discussions, helps share information, relevant experiences and practices as well as debate possible solutions and opportunities for collaboration to address emerging regulatory challenges,` Dr Shah said.

He said the event would focus on the implications of a smart digital society for collaborative regulations.

Broadband for a networked society, digital financial inclusion and mobile applications, cyber security and regulatory matters are some of the topics that will be discussed.