Access to data
THE Sindh Police`s formal request to the interior ministry to be allowed access to Nadra`s fingerprints` database is a step in the right direction. Police officials have said that access to family records as well as fingerprints stored on Nadra`s system should help the force fight regular crime as well as aid counter-terrorism efforts.
Though the police already have the data of around 200,000 suspects on file, linking up with Nadra will give law-enforcers access to a much wider pool of information, as the authority claims to have the data of over 96 million citizens stored on its system. Currently, Nadra only cooperates with law-enforcement agencies in `high-profile` cases and that too upon the instructions of the interior ministry.
It is no secret that police across Pakistan use archaic methods of investigation, and despite many efforts to overhaul the system there has been little tangible success in reforming the police culture. Police officials rarely use methods employing forensic science to probe crimes, while in the past institutions set up to promote scientific investigation of crimes have faced budget cuts. Considering the fact that criminals and terrorists are becoming increasingly high-tech in their operations, it is of utmost importance that law-enforcement agencies keep pace with such elements and use modern scientific methods to investigate and prevent crime. Hence it is hoped that the Sindh Police`s proposal sees the light of day and a working relationship is established between Nadra and all law-enforcement agencies. Police officers must be trained in such a way that obtaining fingerprints and securing crime scenes become standard operating procedure in everything from routine burglaries to acts of terrorism. Also, if the police are indeed granted access to Nadra`s database, the authorities must ensure that citizens` privacy and rights are respected and that the data is not misused.