Police fail to curb smuggling of stolen cellphones to Afghanistan

The Rawalpindi/Islamabad Police and other law enforcement agencies have failed severely in thwarting attempts to smuggle seized and stolen mobile phones into Afghanistan.

According to sources, mobile phones blocked by the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA) either on complaints from street crime victims (whose mobile phones are snatched by armed bangers at gunpoint in the Twin Cities from Rawalpindi and Islamabad) or at the request of police investigators are smuggled into Afghanistan where the IMEI is changed to unlock phones.

Dacoit gangs operating in several neighborhoods in Rawalpindi and Islamabad have suspected links to Afghan smugglers and computer experts and have become untouchable, sources said.

The dacoits mainly snatch expensive iPhones from citizens and smuggle them into Afghanistan where the IMEIs are changed and sold in markets at ridiculous prices, they said.

Stolen or stolen mobile phones are smuggled into Afghanistan through the Torkham border where there is no proper screening of people crossing the border by border security forces.

There is no close coordination or liaison between Rawalpindi, Islamabad and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa police to arrest gangs involved in smuggling stolen cellphones to Afghanistan, sources said.

As a result, citizens of Rawalpindi and Islamabad – whose valuable mobile phones have been snatched by dacoits at gunpoint – are running from pillar to post to have their iPhones retrieved by police despite the recording of the first information reports (FIR) to the police stations concerned.

Shehzad Farooq, a resident of Bahria town and a pharmacist by profession, told The Nation on Wednesday that his iPhone 12 Pro Max was seized by two gunmen at a traffic light near the Fatima Jinnah Women’s University in Rawalpindi. about eight months ago. He said he had been registered FIR against thieves with the civilian lines of the police station (PS), but the police had failed to recover his expensive mobile phone so far. “I had even shared the live location of my iPhone with SP Potohar and SHO, but they could not arrest the accused and later the cellphone was smuggled into Afghanistan,” he said. he said, adding that the current location of his iPhone is shown in Kandahar province by the Google Map.

Similarly, another citizen Asim Gulzar, a resident of Islamabad, told this correspondent that armed dacoits robbed him of cash and iPhone 13 in the industrial area in July 2022. He said he alerted the police on the crime who filed charges against the gangsters and opened an investigation. . He said the robbers rushed to Shamas settlement after snatching his cell and money as he shared their location with police live. However, the investigators of the PS Industrial Zone were sheer negligent and failed to raid the said place and the thieves managed to smuggle his mobile phone into Kabul. “My iPhone 13 last location is Kabul, Jalalabad Highway, Afghanistan,” he said.

He urged the Prime Minister of Pakistan, the Federal Minister of Home Affairs and the Inspector General of Islamabad Police to come up with a strategy to curb the smuggling of stolen/snatched mobile phones to the neighboring country Afghanistan.

Muhammad Bilal, a computer scientist, was also the victim of a cell phone theft by a band of dacoit. Sharing his ordeal with The Nation, Bilal said two dacoits took his iPhone 13 Pro Max from the confines of PS Sihala. He said Sihala police were unable to recover his cellphone despite sharing live locations of thieves who then smuggled cellphones into Afghanistan.

In-depth interviews with retired senior police officers and intelligence agency spies revealed that there were dozens of Afghan citizens who used to smuggle stolen smart phones from Pakistan to the country. Afghanistan with the help of members of the dacoit gangs operating in Twin Cities.

But the police do not take seriously cases of purse robbery causing heavy losses to citizens, they said. They informed that the lack of coordination between the Federal Minister of Home Affairs, Ministers of Home Affairs and Chiefs of Police of Punjab and KP has given free rein to dacoit gangs and Afghan citizens involved in smuggling of cell phones stolen/snatched across the border. “The active network of mobile thieves and smugglers in Punjab and the capital should be dismantled immediately,” they said.

Inspector General of Police (IGP) Islamabad Dr Akbar Nasir Khan, DIG Operations Sohail Zafar Chattha, SSP Operations Malik Jamil Zafar, City Police Officer Rawalpindi Syed Shehzad Nadim Bukhari and SSP Operations Wasim Riaz Khan did not respond to a questionnaire sent by this correspondent le their personal mobile numbers asking the reason for the failure of the LEAs to curb mobile phones being snatched/stolen into Afghanistan from the twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad.