The first deadline for re-verifying SIMs has been pushed back to 14 April from 26 February, after initial plans to divide the programme into two phases – the first for customers with three or more SIMs, and the second for customers with just one or two SIMs – went awry. The original plan was scrapped early on, as customers from both groups turned out to re-verify their SIMs from the start of the project, making it difficult to prioritize or separate the two. Under the original schedule set out by the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA), customers with three or more numbers registered to their Computerised National Identity Card (CNIC) were to re-verify their SIMs by 26 February 2015, with any unverified SIMs from this category to be blocked on 27 February. Users with fewer than three numbers registered to their CNIC were given until 13 April to complete the process.
Due to the rush of customers attempting to verify their SIMs, the PTA has opted to use the latter date for all subscribers. The nation’s cellcos also pointed out further problems with the initial plan, noting that if they had proceeded to block all the unverified SIMs for customers with three or more numbers, they would have to prioritize restoring wrongfully blocked numbers, slowing down the re-verification process for the second group. According to unnamed sources cited by the news portal, the PTA and Pakistan’s cellcos have decided not to announce the postponement of the deadline to keep up the programme’s momentum. Indeed, 72 million of the country’s more than 105 million pre-paid SIMs have been re-verified, including a record five million verified yesterday. Around ten million SIMs are understood to have been disowned by customers and blocked.