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Dubai Becomes Massive Hub For Mobile Phone Smuggling in Pakistan

Dubai Becomes Massive Hub For Mobile Phone Smuggling in Pakistan

The federal government’s report revealed that Dubai serves as the primary air route for smuggling mobile phones into Pakistan. This illicit trade is conducted through multiple airports in cities like Peshawar, Sialkot, Faisalabad, and Karachi. Moreover, individuals such as porters, children, and petty smugglers facilitate the smuggling through Angoor Adda and Chaman border crossings.

An estimated 1,500 petty smugglers cross the Friendship Gate at Chaman border daily, each carrying one or two mobile phones into Pakistan.

Allegations against more than 80 officials have surfaced, implicating them in collusion with 46 smugglers and 92 dealers involved in modifying and patching mobile phones.

The smuggling operations are characterized by organized efforts, often with the cooperation of various law enforcement officials.

The Lahore Chamber of Commerce & Industry (LCCI) reported a significant loss of $1.1 billion to the national exchequer in the fiscal year 2021-22 due to mobile phone smuggling.

Pakistan has witnessed a substantial rise in its teledensity, growing from 2.5 percent in 2002 to 80 percent in 2023, mainly attributed to increased connectivity from substantial foreign direct investment in the telecom sector.

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As a result, the demand for cellular phones has surged, with approximately 36 million units demanded, supplied through various channels including local manufacturing, imports, and smuggling.

Factors contributing to mobile phone smuggling involve heightened import taxes and price escalations due to significant appreciation of the US dollar. This price gap between legally imported and smuggled smartphones incentivizes smuggling operations, leading to massive revenue losses for the national exchequer.

The smuggling routes predominantly involve Dubai as the primary air route, utilizing airports in several Pakistani cities. Additionally, the Chaman border witnesses frequent smuggling activities, with numerous individuals carrying smuggled phones across the border on a daily basis.

To circumvent compatibility issues, mobile dealers and shopkeepers employ tactics such as changing the IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Identity) of expensive smuggled phones with cheaper, older IMEI numbers. Specific mobile models like Samsung, Vivo, Oppo, and OnePlus are often used for altering these phones, making them more affordable than legally imported ones.

Furthermore, dealers modify IMEI numbers through CPID paid software available on websites like www.cpidserver.com. This practice, along with a list of 92 dealers involved in modifying mobile phones, indicates the depth of the issue surrounding mobile phone smuggling in Pakistan.