LAHORE: With more than a thousand incidents of cybercrime being reported in Punjab within the past two months and people being conned of millions of rupees, eyebrows have been raised over the performance of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA).
While cybercrimes including that of blackmailing students especially women, internet frauds and ATM skimming are increasing every day, the FIA appears to be clueless and several cybercriminals, among whom are also those involved in posting obscene content featuring women and children, seem to be far away from the agency’s grasp.
According to FIA sources, hundreds affiliated with cybercrime groups that criticise the armed forces, prepare fake documents and promote explicit content as well as religious hatred over the web have been reported active since January 2018, but the FIA has failed to arrest even a single one.
Moreover, at least 700 inquiries lied pending while the agency only had a ten-member squad to arrest the felons in the whole province, owing to which it had become nearly impossible for the FIA to arrest any absconded or proclaimed offenders outside the provincial capital.
Speaking to Pakistan Today, senior officials of the FIA told that the agency demanded from the government to recruit more people as only 52 cases were registered against thousands of complaints within the past two months. They also said the government hindering the process of provision of modern equipment for the National Response Centre – established to put an end to cybercrimes – was also a major cause of delay in the arrests.
Deputy Director Khalid Anees of FIA Punjab Cybercrime Wing told this correspondent that the actual figures of cybercrimes in Punjab was way more than the number of registered complaints. “The agency every month receives more than 400 complaints pertaining to cybercrimes,” he said and added that a significant increase in the number of social media harassment cases of women was also witnessed in the past few months.
“Not just this, but cases of women being blackmailed in colleges, universities and workplaces on the basis of their pictures and videos have also reached a new high,” he said.
“Similarly, a number of expatriates residing in the United States or European countries use social media to criticise the armed forces, speak against the finality of prophethood and to promote religious intolerance, but the government in a bid to put an end to this, has not yet sought cooperation from any other country,” added Anees.
Expressing FIA’s helplessness, he said that the agency only had a ten-member anti-cybercrime squad. “How can a team having only ten members control cybercrimes by arresting hundreds of social media misusers as well as those involved in ATM skimming frauds?” he questioned.
However, he said, FIA Director General (DG) Dr Usman Anwar and other high-ups, keeping in view the rising incidents of cybercrime, had advised the government to establish nine new police stations across the country including one each in Gujranwala, Multan and Faisalabad.