According to a Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) source, the use of smuggled mobile phones has increased in the Azad Jammu & Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan region as a result of the Device Identification, Registration and Blocking System (DIRBS) not being implemented.
The Special Communications Organisation (SCOM), a division of the Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication, is the main mobile phone provider in this area, in contrast to the rest of the nation, and the DIRBS does not apply to its connections.
A system called DIRBS is intended to detect non-compliant mobile devices connected to regional mobile networks like Jazz, Ufone, Telenor, and Zong4G. On mobile networks, it automatically registers compliant devices and eventually blocks non-compliant ones.
According to the source, 100,000 mobile phones are smuggled into the AJK and Gilgit Baltistan region each month due to a complete halt in local mobile phone manufacturing and importation.
Industry leaders have confirmed that mobile phones smuggled from Dubai into the area have not been duty-paid.
According to Zeeshan Mianoor, Deputy Vice Chairman of the Pakistan Mobile Phone Manufacturers Association, “the monthly sales of local mobile sets were around 2 million devices, and around 8-10% of them were in the AJK and GB region.”
Unregistered phones do not function in the country’s mainland but do use SCOM, claims Muhammad Ishaq Jalal, a journalist based in Skardu.
Due to an agreement between SCOM and Ufone, the same connection functions on the Ufone network in mainland Pakistan.
Due to the fact that many of these expensive used smartphones are blocked in mainland Pakistan, either because they were not registered with PTA or because they were stolen and the IMEI was blocked, expensive used smartphones are also offered at reasonable prices in the GB region.
According to the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) spokesperson, the Cabinet Division has been tasked with ensuring that DIRBS is implemented on SCOM on behalf of both the PTA and the Ministry of IT and Telecom.
The system will be expanded to the SCOM connections as soon as the Cabinet Division gives its approval, the spokesperson continued.
The DIRBS was established to impose duties on mobile phone imports as well as those brought in by international travellers in order to safeguard local manufacturing of mobile devices. However, this system also reduced the smuggling of mobile phones.