This video shows Pakistani, not Afghan, authorities destroying smuggled cell phones

Copyright AFP 2017-2022. Reproduction rights reserved.

A 22-second video showing men destroying cellphones has been widely circulated in West and Central Africa since January 11. Netizens sharing it see it as proof that “mobile phones are now banned in Afghanistan” and that offenders are “sentenced to death”. It’s fake: The viral video shows Pakistani authorities destroying smuggled phones. These devices are also not banned in Afghanistan.

In this 20-second video, we see several men, some in uniform, crushing the hundreds of phones piled up on the ground under their feet. Behind them we see hundreds of bottles placed on the ground. A blue container also appears briefly in the background.

For netizens who share it, this video shows the Afghan authorities who would destroy cell phones by the hundreds because they would be “now banned“in the countryside because”considered the eye of Satan“. Violators of this new Taliban policy would be”sentenced to death“.

Screenshot of a Facebook post, taken on January 26, 2022

This video has accumulated more than 1,500 shares on social networks in Africa (1, 2, 3…) and almost 100,000 times in France since January 11.

However, be careful: this video was not shot in Afghanistan, but in Pakistan, and the use of mobile phones has not been banned by the Afghan authorities.

A video shot in Pakistan

AFP had already verified a similar publication on January 18: the same video accompanied by the claim that it was Pakistan, which by government order had banned the use of mobile phones, had circulated in Arabic on social networks.

On YouTube, AFP had found a longer version of this video published in December 2021 by the channel “Awami Press Club“and with the title”Customs destroys huge quantities of contraband in Karachi“, the largest city in Pakistan.

According to Pakistani newspaper The Express Tribune, customs officials did indeed seize contraband this month, after two years of no seizures due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Other local media Facebook pages (1, 2) also posted videos around the same time showing scenes very similar to the one seen in the viral video. According to these two sources, these images show the destruction of contraband – more than 200 kilos of drugs as well as “big amountsof alcohol, cigarettes and other products.

Finally, we see two clues that prove that it is indeed a Pakistani scene: the emblem of Pakistani customs, a bird with outstretched wings, which we see on the uniform of one of the men in the 15th second (compared here with an image posted by the certified Twitter account of the Pakistan Federal Revenue Authority).

But also Pakistan’s flag (in red) on the uniform of the same man, in the 16th second.

Screenshot from a Facebook video, taken on January 26, 2022
Screenshot of the Larousse dictionary page, taken on January 26, 2022 (Marin LEFEVRE)

AFP photographer Rizwan Tabassum covered the seizure on December 29, 2021 in Karachi reported by local media, which published images very similar to the ones we are confirming. One of them shows the same light blue container (top left), taps (in the background) and bottles of alcohol lined up in the same way on the ground.

Customs officers stand in front of alcohol seized during an operation during an event to destroy contraband seized in the country in Karachi on December 29, 2021 (AFP / RIZWAN TABASSUM)

Mobile phones allowed in Afghanistan

As for the rumor that mobile phones are banned in Afghanistan, that too is false: contacted on January 26, AFP journalists from the Kabul office, the Afghan capital, confirmed that it was authorized to use these devices – while specifying that listening to music or watching videos could displease the strictest Taliban officers.

On the other hand, other prohibitions have been imposed by the Taliban, especially for women: they are now excluded from public employment and public schools remain closed to girls over 12 years of age. Women who wish to travel must also be accompanied by a male member of their immediate family and placards reminding them that they “shall“Worn headscarf, along with images of burqas, were plastered around Kabul.

Afghan women march with slogans and hold placards during a demonstration for women’s rights in Kabul on January 16, 2022 (AFP / WAKIL KOHSAR)

Leave a Comment