Nimroz officials ban Iranian SIM cards, currency to limit Tehran's influence

By Emran

Afghan authorities in Nimroz province launched a campaign in April 2022 to collect and deactivate Iranian-made SIM cards and internet devices in what they say is part of an effort to counter Iranian surveillance. [Abdullah Azizi]

HERAT -- Nimroz officials have launched a campaign to collect and deactivate Iranian-made SIM cards and internet devices in a move they say is aimed at countering Iranian surveillance.

Since the start of the campaign on April 15, authorities have collected and deactivated hundreds of SIM cards and Wi-Fi devices and thousands of prepaid top-up cards distributed by Iranian telecommunication networks.

The purpose of the campaign is to prevent surveillance by Iranian intelligence agencies and the infiltration of the local population, according to Abdul Rahim Fayyaz, the director of the Nimroz Provincial Telecommunication and IT Directorate.

"These SIM cards are totally outside the control of the Afghanistan Telecommunications Authority, and have threatened the security of Nimroz residents," said Fayyaz.

Iranian-made SIM and mobile prepaid top-up cards are seen April 15 at Nimroz Telecommunication and Information Technology Directorate after they were confiscated by authorities aimed at cracking down on Iranian surveillance efforts in Afghanistan. [Abdullah Azizi]

Iranian-made SIM and mobile prepaid top-up cards are seen April 15 at Nimroz Telecommunication and Information Technology Directorate after they were confiscated by authorities aimed at cracking down on Iranian surveillance efforts in Afghanistan. [Abdullah Azizi]

"Iranian SIM cards have disrupted local telecom operators' services," he said, adding, "We will not allow them to operate in Nimroz."

"The Iranian regime has been intercepting people's conversations through their telecom networks to influence and control the situation in Nimroz," said Abdul Karim Mohammadi, a resident of Zaranj city, the provincial capital, adding that the move will eliminate Iran's spying efforts in the province.

The Iranian SIM cards and Wi-Fi devices were being offered at cheaper prices than Afghan competitors', he added.

"The Iranian regime has been making huge profits from prepaid mobile top-up cards... over the past several years, and this must be stopped immediately," said Esmatullah Mobasher, another resident of Zaranj.

Banning the toman

Meanwhile, Da Afghanistan Bank (DAB), Afghanistan's central bank, has banned the use of the Iranian toman across the country.

DAB spokesman Saber Momand told Salaam Times on April 18 that from now on the use of Iranian currency is forbidden and will carry a penalty.

"The use of Iranian toman in trade has devalued the afghani in Nimroz, and the people of Nimroz have been unfamiliar with the use of their country's own currency," he said.

The use of the toman in commercial transactions has benefitted Iran and, in most cases, it has entered Afghanistan in exchange for US dollars, he added.

Ghulam Sakhi Niazi, a resident of Zaranj city, welcomed the ban on the use of the toman.

"The afghani is our identity and the use of the toman in daily transactions is damaging the Afghan economy. If the afghani is not used in Iran, why should the Iranian currency be used in Afghanistan?"

"In some provinces -- for instance, Herat and Kandahar where the afghani is mostly used -- businesses are not running at a loss; however, in Nimroz and parts of Farah where transactions are made in the toman, businesses tend to suffer a lot," he said.

The afghani does not have any value in Iran, therefore, the toman should be treated the same way in Afghanistan, he added.

Mohammad Hassan Mukhtar, an economic expert based in Zaranj city, said that prohibiting the use of the toman will promote the circulation and value of the afghani in Nimroz.

"When the use of the toman is prohibited in daily transactions, Afghan currency will replace it and make its way into circulation in the market. The more the afghani is in circulation, the higher the value of our national currency," he said.

"The Iranian toman is one of the most worthless currencies in the world and should completely be excluded from the Afghan markets," he added.

Preventing Iranian influence

Both bans will reduce Iran's influence in Nimroz, analysts predict.

The Iranian regime has managed to expand its influence in some bordering provinces, especially Nimroz, where the country's intelligence has maintained many active agents, according to political analyst Khalid Sikandar.

The Iranian regime has exported its SIM cards at a lower price in Nimroz "in a bid to maintain its influence in the province and weaken domestic telecom operators", he said.

With the ongoing crackdown, however, the influence of Iranian intelligence will diminish in Nimroz, he added.

"The import of Iranian SIM cards is a scheme by the Iranian government. When they are deactivated, Iran's undercover activities will also decrease in Afghanistan," Sikandar said.

"The Iranian regime has turned Nimroz bazaar into a black market," said Mohammad Akbar Haqdost, a civil society activist in Zaranj city. "It has injected its worthless currency into the market to gain benefit by importing US dollars or other valuable commodities from Afghanistan."

"Iranian intelligence operatives have been very instrumental in promoting the use of the toman and Iranian SIM cards in Nimroz province, but now the efforts of these circles have failed," he said.

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If self-sufficiency takes precedence in our country as a rule of law, our country will achieve the best political, economic and social achievements in a short time.


You are right; but lack of self-sufficiency should not mean that we use the currency of foreign countries in our country.
Achieving economic, social, political, etc. achievements is mostly developed by our faithfulness to our national values.
Using Afghani currency means respecting our money, respecting our country, respecting our values, but using the currencies of Pakistan and Iran means protecting the interests of the enemies. If you look at the last four decades, the Pakistani military has always supported armed movements fighting against the central government of Afghanistan.

Pakistan is our number 1 enemy, Iran is our number 2 enemy, and this should be taught in the country's schools, because these two countries have proven this over the past four decades.


This is a good move, but the government should try to do the same in other provinces. The Pakistani rupee is traded in most of the provinces bordering Pakistan, and this trend is getting stronger day by day. This jeopardizes Afghanistan's national sovereignty and dramatically reduces the value of Afghanistan's national currency (Afghani), harms Afghanistan's economy, and keeps Afghanistan in need of others. If the government is serious about its decision, it should immediately stop the circulation of Pakistani rupees in the bordering provinces of Pakistan.


Preventing Iran’s influence in Afghanistan by banning SIM cards as well as using their money is a very small step in this area, and the effect looks more like to be in the provinces bordering with that country. The Afghan government must focus on the cultural invasion and influence of Iran throughout the country. Over the previous years, in order to have the most influence in the field of culture and to expand it, Iran has inaugurated dozens of cultural centers, published books and articles, and to some extent it has achieved its goal. There is a need for Afghanistan to prevent the country's influence in Afghanistan by seriously monitoring these centers and the books and the materials published by that country.


Not only Iranians but also Pakistani-made materials/equipment should be banned from entering the holy land of Afghanistan and should not be allowed to enter the territory of Afghanistan. If Iran is our enemy, Pakistan is a few steps ahead of Afghanistan. Pakistan has been training terrorists on its soil for decades and bringing them to Afghanistan to give them Afghan names and badges. Pakistan does not want Afghanistan to be self-sufficient and its children to be educated and think of nation-building. Just as the British overthrew the national hero and progressive King Ghazi Amanullah Khan of Afghanistan through their spies decades ago, so Pakistan overthrew the government of President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, and we are here waiting to receive charity from others. Afghanistan is on a path of extremism and deprivation against the wishes of Ghazi Amanullah Khan, and Pakistan has its hands behind it.


Yes, I liked this article. The government should block not only Iranian but also Pakistani goods. Our number one enemy is Pakistan because Pakistan has been training terrorists for four and a half decades and destroying Afghanistan. The latest news coming out today is that the Pakistani terrorist army and Chinese military personnel have been deployed at Bagram Air Base.