LAHORE: The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) has set up three more cybercrime cells in Punjab to facilitate the complainants, The Express Tribune has learnt.
An FIA official said the cells have been set up in Gujranwala, Faisalabad, and Multan. “We are running the cell by re-distributing the already sanctioned staff at Punjab regional office and Islamabad headquarters until the new recruitment process is completed.”
An amount of Rs1.1 billion has been allocated to upgrade cells across the country and to hire 416 new employees. “At least, 25% of the new staff will be females as the complainants in the majority of the cases registered at the cells are females,” he said. He added the process of recruitment, training and assuming charge at their designated stations will hopefully be completed within a year. There was a little delay as the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) had banned hiring and transfers in a preview of the policy of General Elections 2018.
Talking about the purpose of setting up the cells, he said the aim is to facilitate the complainants. The Lahore cybercrime cell had received approximately 4,000 complaints related to cybercrime by women between January 2018 and August 2018. “The cell had only 10 staff members to deal with the queries.”
In June this year, FIA Cybercrimes Director retired Captain Mohammad Shoaib while giving a briefing to the senate standing committee on Information Technology and Telecommunication said the agency’s National Response Centre for Cybercrime received more than 7,800 complaints related to cybercrime in Punjab in the last two years.
Dealing with such a large number of complaints with a minimum staff was almost impossible, he said, adding that both, FIA and the complainant had to suffer. There were not enough staff to work. Besides, while investigating the cases they also had to appear before different courts, sometimes to present the accused to gain a physical remand, challenge his bail appeal, present evidence in trial courts and writing case files.
Besides, dealing with such situations, they also had to conduct raids to arrest the suspects throughout the province. He said that it was a challenging task for an investigator to go and arrest a suspect hiding in a far-flung area of the province. “It takes an investigator a day to reach the spot and another day to bring back the suspect after completing the operation,” he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 1st, 2018.