Government of Pakistan has decided to block smuggled cell phones and impose a ban on using illegally imported mobile phones in the country from December 31, 2018. This has been revealed by Fawad Chaudhry, federal minister for information and broadcasting, while briefing media after the recent federal cabinet meeting.

Prime Minister Imran Khan chairs the Cabinet Meeting

The minister further said that illegally imported mobile phones would be blocked and could not be used starting from next year. However, such phones brought into the country before December 31 would work. He further reiterated the cabinet’s decision that the local mobile phone industry would be promoted with these steps.

Earlier, there were rumors that government is planning to allow the import of used smartphones in Pakistan. However, the recent cabinet’s decision does not reflect the same. We think that the change attributes to the fact that prime minister Imran Khan is keen to cut the import bill since smartphones (new or used) constitute a major portion of imports in Pakistan.

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As the government is allowing the legally imported smartphones to be used in Pakistan, DIRBS in not going anywhere. The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has been asked to finalize the necessary checks ensuring the IMEI verification so that the smuggled mobile phones would be blocked after the recent deadline of December 31st.

Not to mention that the federal government has earlier announced a deadline of October 20th to block smuggled cell phones but later the Senate Standing Committee barred PTA to block such phones.

According to official statistics, around 82 million mobile phones are imported through legal means every year while the cell phones worth Rs. 2.5 billion are smuggled into the country annually. The government has rightly decided to regularize the entry of the imported smartphone in Pakistan and ban the usage of smuggled devices.