Dubai: The Prime Air Route for Mobile Smuggling into Pakistan

Web DeskDecember 26, 2023
Dubai: The Prime Air Route for Mobile Smuggling into Pakistan

A recent federal government report has uncovered startling revelations regarding the primary air route exploited for smuggling mobile devices into Pakistan. Dubbed as the epicenter of this illicit trade, Dubai stands out as the go-to air route for mobile phone smuggling, particularly via key airports such as Peshawar, Sialkot, Faisalabad, and Karachi. This surreptitious operation involves a network of porters, minors, and petty smugglers utilizing various border crossings, including Angoor Adda and Chaman, to transport mobile phones into the country.

A Smuggling Epidemic: Insider Involvement and Losses to Exchequer

Approximately 1,500 petty smugglers traverse the Friendship Gate at Chaman border daily, each carrying one or two mobile phones. Reports have surfaced linking over 80 officials with 46 smugglers and 92 dealers engaged in patching mobile phones. Shockingly, this clandestine operation is allegedly supported by certain Law Enforcement Agency (LEA) officials, reflecting a deeply rooted issue within various enforcement entities.

Read more:App Launched to Stop Stolen Mobile Phone Sales

According to the Lahore Chamber of Commerce & Industry (LCCI), Pakistan suffered a staggering loss of $1.1 billion to mobile phone smuggling in the fiscal year 2021-22. This massive loss, attributed to the burgeoning demand for cellular devices reaching 36 million, has caused significant financial strain on the national exchequer.

Teledensity Surge and Smuggling Tactics

Pakistan’s teledensity soared from 2.5 percent in 2002 to a substantial 80 percent in 2023, fuelling the escalating demand for phones. While 21.94 million phones were sourced from local manufacturing and 1.53 million through legal imports, a whopping 12.53 million devices found their way into the country through smuggling channels.

Smugglers have exploited the substantial price difference between legally imported and smuggled smartphones, flooding local markets with these devices at lower rates. Employing multiple tactics, they’ve made these phones compatible for use in Pakistan. Some methods involve altering the International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) of smuggled phones, including popular brands like Samsung, Vivo, Oppo, and OnePlus.

Read more:New Taxes on Mobile Phones by FBR

Resolution and Preventive Measures

To curb this escalating problem, the Prime Minister’s Secretariat has suggested a rotational policy for LEA officials stationed at key entry and exit points. Furthermore, the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has been urged to explore actions against websites facilitating IMEI alterations, like, as a means of deterring this underground trade.

This extensive report sheds light on the intricate network of smuggling routes, the extensive use of Dubai as a primary conduit, and the alarming financial losses incurred by Pakistan due to mobile device smuggling. As the country grapples with this issue, the government’s proactive measures aim to staunch the flow of contraband devices, safeguarding the nation’s fiscal stability and curbing illegal trade networks.

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