Pakistani cellular companies and irregularities


It’s time for the responsible tax payer to become a whistle-blower


Here is a fact: every cellular company operating in Pakistan is under a strict obligation to get approval from Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) before the importation of the cellular phones, after having the appropriate model’s type approved by the P.T.A, along with the IMEI numbers (which is necessary to identify the user location in case of any eventuality).


It has recently come to my knowledge through various newspapers, news channels, social media and High Court’s Order, that one well known company, Q-Mobile, is manufacturing and importing the mobile phones from China without the IMEI numbers.


Why is this a pertinent matter?

Because it is an activity which is not only illegal but contrary to the terms and conditions of Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA).


Furthermore, the Honourable Sindh High Court in 2016 PTD 1698 held that “customs authorities were not supposed to allow import of terminal equipment/cellular phones, which did not have proper International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) without having Type Approval Certificate issued by Pakistan Telecommunication Authority in that regard in advance”. Additionally, article 9.6 of Telecommunication Policy, 2015 required that all terminal equipment/cellular phones would be subjected to type approval based on international norms, and regulatory mechanism would be developed in order to identify persons using phones with duplication identification in order to have such phones blocked.


The Honourable Supreme Court of Pakistan in its judgment dated 29.11.2013 (passed in Suo Moto Case No. 16 of 2011) called upon the PTA to ensure its assistance in deterring terrorism in the country, wherein mobile phones were held to play a vital role. The PTA was ordered to ensure that mobile phones only be imported with appropriate International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI).


Why? Because the mobile phones operating in Pakistan without IMEI numbers are surly a serious security risk in Pakistan and utterly negating the letter and spirit of National Action Plan, that was established by the Government of Pakistan to crack down on an on-going terrorism in Pakistan.


It is pertinent to mention here that the aforesaid cellular company filed a civil suit no. 1435 of 2017 in the Honourable High Court against one of the news channels broadcasting the news, regarding the cell phones imported by the Q-Mobile without IMEI numbers. The Honourable High Court in the same suit, not only recalled the injunction order passed against the news channel, but also passed a detailed order against Q-Mobile, directing the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) to submit their comments about exactly how the mobile phones were imported in Pakistan without IMEI numbers.


The Court further held in its order:


“It is alarming to note while the quantity of the imported phones as per the G.D is only 10,200, however IMEI numbers given are 21,343 meaning thereby, there is no correlation between the quantity imported phones with IMEI numbers given by the PTA, which is in absolute violation of the Apex Court Judgement”.


The Court further held “in circumstances when a G.D fails to specify IMEI numbers of the imported mobile phones, it is extremely difficult to ensure that the compliance of laws with regard to the import of mobile phones only with IMEI has been made” and that since Q-Mobile had failed to substantiate its claim that all of its mobile phones are imported with proper IMEI, these acts were “not only violative of the Apex Court judgement, they also raise antennas of watch dogs and people at large. While right of freedom of speech enshrined in Article 19 and right to information made part of the constitution on 2010, people at large have right to know about illegalities committed by individuals which could pose danger to their lives and liberties.”


As a concerned citizen and as an advocate of the High Court, I intend to bring these cell phone companies out of shadows. We being tax payers and law abiding citizens residing in Pakistan, have a right to enforce not only our fundamental rights, but also the rights of the general public. We must become the “whistle blower” as enshrined in constitution of Pakistan and also permitted by the Honourable Apex court in 2012 SCMR 6.


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