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Pakistan's dollar profiteers prosper as banks, businesses suffer

Greenbacks smuggled in orange crates to Afghan border in pursuit of fat margins

A trader counts dollars at a currency exchange booth in Peshawar, Pakistan in September 2021. Insiders say unauthorized dealers are siphoning dollars from legal channels.   © Reuters

KARACHI -- Scarce U.S. dollars are the hottest commodity in Pakistan as official currency exchanges run dry and the crisis-gripped government scrambles to clamp down on rampant profiteering.

Pakistan's struggle with dwindling foreign reserves this year is no secret. But market insiders say the pressure continues to mount as unauthorized dealers siphon dollars out of legal channels to sell in gray markets across the country and in neighboring Afghanistan, where they can find lucrative margins.

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