Government Appeals Against IHC Order on Blocking Mobile SIMs of Non-Filers

The Federal government has applied to the Islamabad High Court (IHC) with the intention of removing an earlier order that forbids the disconnection of mobile SIM cards.

The champion of torture, the Attorney General of Pakistan Mansoor Awan came in front of IHC to set aside the verdict. The direction came in the wake of a petition filed by an individual mobile firm.

During a House session, IHC Chief Justice remarked that an earlier court order simply barred the ban on the activities of the private telecom company. This direction did not reverse the decision of the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) to put a restriction on SIM cards of the people who had not filed tax returns. The highest court of the judiciary ruled that the media had made some wrong and inaccurate interpretations on the said order.

Thereafter, when this occurred, the IHC also agreed to the government’s petition to cancel the last order. The order is for the mobile firm to answer to it by May 22.

The SIMs Blocking Saga

FBR tried to stop SIM cards issuance by non-taxpayers by setting the close of the May 15 deadline for telecom companies on April 29, 2024.

It was initially more hesitant among the telecom companies but they finally agreed with FBR a week ago to begin blocking the SIMs of non-filers manually in small quantities and the systems will start automatically blocking them on their own afterwards.

Later on, telecom companies assured that they block 5000 non filed SIMs daily on behalf of Mr Muhammad Aurangzeb who is the Finance Minister.

GSMA Opposes SIM Blocking

GSMA, the parent organization for the Global System for Mobile Communications (GSMA) has come against the FBR orders. It cautions against blocking cards SIMs as this will harm digitalization endeavours, inhibit foreign investments, and distort banking, e-commerce, remittances and other service that are key engines of the economy. GSMA suggested that the fines should not be imposed, but rather other means should be sought for generating some revenue.

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