A 20-second clip of men in military uniform destroying cell phones has gone viral. In the background, stacks of liquor bottles can be spotted. The video has been shared with the claim that it is from Afghanistan. As per social posts, the country has passed a new law to ban mobile phones. The claim further adds that citizens need to hand over their mobile phones to Taliban military officials and anyone found with a phone will face the death penalty.

Multiple Twitter users have shared this video.

Facebook pages NB News 24 and सहारनपुर वाले posted this clip. The latter deleted the post after it gained over 35,000 views.

Using the social media monitoring tool CrowdTangle we found that at least 70 accounts have shared this video with the same claim. (view PDF)

Alt News has received several requests to fact-check this claim on our official mobile application. (iOS and Android)

Video from Pakistan

Readers should note that if Afghanistan’s Taliban government had banned mobile phones it would be ‘breaking news’ across the world. However, there are no reports.

Alt News viewed the video carefully and noticed that at the 9-second mark we can hear an officer speak in Urdu. At the 16-second mark, a close shot of an officer’s arm reveals the Pakistani flag over the insignia on his uniform.

Using this as a clue, we performed multiple keyword searches and found a report by the US-based media outlet Vice. A January 7 report stated that ahead of New Year’s Eve, Pakistan’s customs agency organised a ceremony to torch a vast collection of smuggled liquor, narcotics and contraband worth a whopping $13.9 million. Vice reported that contraband destruction ceremonies are grand events celebrated with nationalistic pomp and publicity stunts in Pakistan.

Pakistan-based news outlet The News published a report on this event on December 30.

YouTube channel Dr Essa Laboratory & Diagnostic Centre Official uploaded a video titled ‘Pakistan Customs Destruction Ceremony’ on December 30, 2021. In the video, Karachi-based collector customs enforcement Feroze Alam Junejo said that certain narcotics and counterfeit products worth two billion Pakistani rupees were destroyed.

Alt News selected appropriate stills from the viral clip and above-mentioned video and found similarities in the uniform. In addition to the identical grey camouflage uniform, we found the following similarities —

  1. Name tag on the right chest
  2. Identical star insignia on the left chest
  3. Pakistani flag insignia on the left shoulder
  4. Identical star insignia below Pakistani flag insignia

YouTube channel RealKarachi also uploaded a video with Junejo’s bite. In this video, we spotted the cargo container seen in the viral video. Thus the viral video is from the December 2021 ceremony in Pakistan.

To sum it up, a clip from Pakistan was shared with the false claim that the Taliban government in Afghanistan destroyed all mobile phones and has banned people from owning them.

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About the Author

Archit is a senior fact-checking journalist at Alt News. Previously, he has worked as a producer at WION and as a reporter at The Hindu. In addition to work experience in media, he has also worked as a fundraising and communication manager at S3IDF.