- Cybercrime needs experts, but the FIA is not doing the needful
With the advent of modern technology, the face of traditional crime has drastically changed. Now criminals adopt digital means to commit different crimes. This has ushered into an era of cybercrimes in the society. Now law enforcement agencies are facing culprits who use cyberspace to successfully commit an offences. In Pakistan the Federal Investigation Agency has been assigned the task of countering cybercrimes. it has created a special wing called CCW (Cyber Crime Wing) to deal with such offences.
Initially the CCW did play a very positive role in nabbing such culprits but with the passage of time the typical police culture crept into its ranks. The officers and officials posted in the CCW start turning into a mafia of their own kind. They started becoming corrupt and inefficient. The lust for power and misuse of authority has become the hallmark of this Wing. They become so obsessed with their self-projection that some of them have been known to use social media to show off their tiny selves. Having no regard for government rules and regulations, they openly use their official position over social media for their personal gains. Many of them have even opened YouTube channels, and accounts on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter showing their official positions.
One glaring example is that of an Assistant Director namely Asif Iqbal Choudhry. The social media is filled with the personal stuff of this officer which is meant for his self-projection. AD Asif Iqbal has established a YouTube channel with the title “Muhammad Asif Iqbal Cyber Crime wing FIA”. Similarly he is using to the name of FIA in all his other social media platforms and videos. Without any legal permission this FIA officer is openly using his Official position for his personal gains.
Unless and until there is a strong accountability, and a system of checks and balances within the ranks of the Cyber Crime wing, there is little hope of any improvement. It is essential to discourage the trends of self-projection and personal aggrandizement amongst the officers and officials of the Cyber Crime Wing. There should be zero tolerance for using the name and resources of CCW for personal gains. Most importantly the professional and experienced officers of other wings of the FIA should be posted in CCW
When Additional Director General FIA Ihsan Sadiq took notice of his illegal activities and placed him under suspension, then this Assistant Director resorted to cheap tactics. He labelled his routine suspension as something to do with a tweet from Iman Mazari, the daughter of Federal Minister for Human Rights Dr Shirin Mazari. Through his cronies he started the hashtag “Justice for Asif Iqbal” and “Reinstate Asif Iqbal”. But in order to pressurize DG FIA Wajid Zia and ADG Ihsan Sadiq his cronies started the hashtag” Sack Shirin Mazari”.
He started giving the impression as if he was the only honest officer of FIA who had been sacked for taking u a feud with the daughter of a minister. This shows how the Cybercrime Wing officers have turned themselves into Cyber bullies for their personal gains. In the recent past, when an honest FIA officer, Sajjad Mustafa Bajwa, while posted in Cybercrime circle Lahore, countered the illegal actions of such black sheep then they all made an alliance against him. When he wrote to the high-ups regarding the wrongdoings of such personnel, instead of taking any disciplinary action, the FIA Headquarters transferred Mr Bajwa. This was a turning point as this mafia became so powerful that no officer could dare to question their illegal activities.
From the very beginning the Cyber Crime Wing turned into a liability for FIA. Most of the recruitment was done from those already working in the PISCES project of the FIA. The rest ad been recommended by various big guns. People with dubious qualifications were inducted without observing the rules. From the very beginning, those with better skills were either expelled or forced to leave. However, those with dubious qualifications were extended important portfolios.
One Forensic Expert (Now renamed as DD Forensic) presented a degree from such a campus of Al Khair University which had been declared illegal by the Higher Education Commission. The first batch of CCW was regularized by the famous Khursheed Shah Committee which had a mandate of only considering those cases below BPS 17. But interestingly this Committee illegally regularized the services of CCW officers in BPS 17 and BPS 18. Till date no legal explanation has been extended to elaborate this anomaly.
The second batch was recruited in 2013. But one Deputy Director Forensic hailing from Mardan was illegally regularized with the first batch of CCW. All the batchmates of this Deputy Director are still striving for regularization of their service.
One Deputy Director hailing from Lahore was caught red handed while changing the cell phone confiscated as case property with another one. Despite such a criminal act, the gentleman is still enjoying his service. The most strange case is that of an officer who was recruited as Principal Investigator, a post meant for technical investigation. This officer was so crafty that he first changed the nomenclature of his post to Assistant Director. Then he put his career on a fast track and within no time he grabbed the post of Additional Director in BPS 19. He was eyeing the post of Director in BPS 20 but thanks to the leg-pulling culture of the FIA, this matter was reported to the high-ups. Till date no legal action has been taken against him.
The officers of CCW are involved in illegally providing the logs of different Facebook accounts of females, call data records and NADRA records of different people in lieu of huge payments. It is pertinent to mention that social media platforms and other famous websites provide information only if request is made through an official email account. The irony is that all the regular, adhoc and contract employees of CCW have been granted official email addresses with no countercheck upon the users. There is no centralized monitoring system to check whether the data is being requested for official or personal purposes. The incumbent DG FIA Wajid Zia is a very upright and honest person. Similarly the Additional DG CCW Mr Ihsan Sadiq is known for his honesty and professionalism. Recently the induction of Mr Jaffer Khan as Director Cyber Crime Islamabad is really a wise decision. But unless and until there is a strong accountability, and a system of checks and balances within the ranks of the Cyber Crime wing, there is little hope of any improvement. It is essential to discourage the trends of self-projection and personal aggrandizement amongst the officers and officials of the Cyber Crime Wing. There should be zero tolerance for using the name and resources of CCW for personal gains. Most importantly the professional and experienced officers of other wings of the FIA should be posted in CCW to improve its performance. If timely steps are not taken then the future seems bleaker for CCW.
The writer can be reached at [email protected]