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Smuggled from Afghanistan and Iran, countries that allow duty free auto imports, the most desirable and expensive cars are being sold at rock bottom prices in Pakistan.
Shahnaz Javed Mahmood
KARACHI — Smuggled cars like Prado, Pajero, Land Cruiser and Mercedes are being sold at rock bottom prices in Pakistan, auto dealers say.
“In Quetta, Peshawar and Karachi, luxury cars smuggled into Pakistan from Afghanistan and Iran are available at less than 50 percent of their actual price,” Nissan Autos Sales Director Naeem Tahir says.
“Afghanistan and Iran have allowed the duty-free import of luxury cars and the importers resell them in Pakistan where the cars are very expensive,” he added.
A brand new legally imported Land Cruiser sells for US$180,700 in Pakistan, whereas a smuggled one can be had for a mere $48,000.
Imported Nissan Patrol and Mitsubishi Pajero models are legally available from $10,000 to $13,000 respectively, but their smuggled relatives are being sold in the range of $4,000 to $5,000. The same kinds of markdowns are available on Mercedes, Toyota, and other makes.
Pakistan Automobile Dealers Association President Shahzad Ahmed explained that in the last few months a 30 percent devaluation of the Pakistani rupee and an increase in taxes from 160 to 325 percent have led to dizzying increases in the prices of imported cars. This has slashed auto imports by 40 percent for the business year ending on June 30, a blow to the legally imported automobile industry. Not surprisingly, the situation encourages the smuggling of cars into the country.
“Border forces are unable to curb the smuggling of ‘dream cars’ and the trend is damaging to both local dealers and the national treasury.” Ahmed said.
“Leaders of terrorist outfits are using smuggled cars, and few dare to report them,” Faraz Khan, another car dealer said. According to him, people are hoping that after a period of two to three years, tax authorities will declare amnesty for the owners of smuggled cars if they pay a nominal customs duty and sales tax. In the meantime, auto smuggling continues unchecked.