FBR and PTA Clash Over Blocking SIM Cards in Pakistan
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In a contentious development, the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) and the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) find themselves at loggerheads regarding the proposal to block around half a million SIM cards owned by non-tax filers in Pakistan.

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PTA vehemently opposes the proposed SIM card blockade, citing technical incompatibility issues within their system. Moreover, they highlight that a substantial number of these SIM card are registered under male identities but are utilized by women and minors, adding complexity to the matter. PTA’s data reveals that only 27% of SIM cards in Pakistan are registered under female names, underscoring gender disparities in SIM ownership.

From a legal standpoint, PTA asserts that they are not obligated to block SIM cards, with the provisions of the Income Tax Ordinance 2021 not extending to the authority. The widescale blocking of SIM cards, PTA warns, could severely impede digitalization efforts and hinder the growth of the telecommunications sector, potentially deterring foreign investments. Furthermore, it may disrupt essential services such as banking transactions, e-commerce activities, and mobile account operations, exacerbating the situation.

PTA advocates for exploring alternative legal avenues instead of resorting to blanket SIM card blocking. They also stress the importance of implementing a comprehensive verification process for SIM card owners to address any potential issues proactively, considering that individuals can acquire multiple SIM card on behalf of others.

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