The black market seems to have a solution for everything.
Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) had started blocking the unregistered or illegal smartphones and feature phones in Pakistan since the 30th of April, after a delay of several months. But people have found a way out of this. The blocked phones from PTA are being unblocked on the black market at Rs. 2000 and Rs. 3000 depending on the handset.
During a meeting between Senate standing committee and the Ministry of Information Technology, Senator Mian Mohammad Ateeq Shaikh raised the issue, saying that the blocked smartphones are being unblocked on the black market for 2000 or 3000 rupees. He said that these mobile phones being unblocked at this cheap rate would have fetched the national treasury more than Rs. 30,000.
The senator even showed a receipt to the committee members and IT ministry officials to prove that someone had gotten their phone unblocked on the black market.
PTA is blocking those smartphones which are not registered under the device Identification Registration and Blocking System (DIRBS), a system that the authorities launched last year in May. The purpose of launching this system was to curb the system of illegal or non-compliant phones from operating within the country’s jurisdiction.
According to PTA, there are around 3 million smuggled and non-custom paid smartphones in Pakistan which include feature phones as well. PTA planned to block the devices in several phases, but with the question raised by the senator, it truly raises questions whether blocking these phones will yield any benefit to the country or not because if people can get them unblocked on the black market all of the previous efforts was for none.
The authorities should also target the black market individuals who are unlocking these phones illegally, to ensure that the mobile phones which PTA is blocking remain blocked forever unless the tax amount on it is paid.