Cyber crime in Pakistan: Serious threat but no laws!

Published: December 8, 2012

I humbly request the parliament to please, please finalise and pass the PECO 2012 as soon as possible. PHOTO: AFP

Cyber crime is the one of the biggest threats all over the world. Almost all countries, including developing African countries, are combating these threats with extreme legal measures. They have completed their legislation and now there are laws to tackle cyber criminals.

Unfortunately Pakistan is one of the few countries where cyber crime laws are still in the pipeline waiting for implementation. It is certainly not as if we don’t face that many cyber crimes here; In fact, Pakistan is currently facing the following types of it:

  • Financial crimes
  • Cyber pornography
  • Sale of illegal articles
  • Online gambling
  • Intellectual property crimes
  • Email spoofing
  • Cyber stalking
  • Forgery
  • Unauthorised access to computer systems\networks
  • Theft of information contained in electronic form
  • Virus/worm attacks
  • Logic bombs
  • Trojan attacks
  • Internet time theft
  • Password cracking
  • Buffer overflow

Now that’s a long list, isn’t it?

The officials dealing with these say that in the year 2011 there were only 15 to 20 cases registered regarding cyber crimes, and most of these cases were filed by the women. They said that fake Facebook profiles account for the biggest and most common cyber crime in the social media/networking world, but due to no cyber law in the country, the criminals are free to do whatever they like. The officials also added that numerous complaints had been reported to the cyber crime cell where men had made fake Facebook accounts of girls to ‘take revenge’ because the girls’ families had rejected their marriage proposals.

Worse cases involved blackmail, where a man would blackmail his girlfriend by making an imposter account or uploading her private photographs on public websites.

In coming days, we can expect the court to be taking up these cases as one of their top priorities. International cellular companies are the prime targets of cyber criminals, but due to their reputation, these companies avoid lodging complaints.

Even the newly introduced internet banking system in Pakistan is at high risk. Account holders can lose their money to hackers and criminals sitting offshore somewhere where there are no cyber law enforcing agencies. Most legal experts advise that internet banking should be completely avoided until a strong set of laws begins to exist.

On December 31, 2007, the then president Pervez Musharraf promulgated a law called The Prevention of Electronic Crimes Ordinance (PECO) 2007. It was supposed to be the best gift for the nation, really, because internet crime rate was going off the charts. However, this bill was not passed by the then parliament. It is still pending.

It may be chaotic that so many systems in the country have become computerised but there are no legal implications; there is no concept of ‘checking things’ and so no punishment for criminals.

Every day cellular companies in the country face cyber crimes; the general public is looted by email hackers and ‘African lottery’ scams, and even lives are at threat because of internet blackmail.

What are the sufferers to do? Who can they complain to? I don’t understand why cyber crime is being taken so lightly in the country.

I humbly request the parliament to please, please finalise and pass the PECO 2012 as soon as possible. Don’t delay it further and do not put your people at the mercy of these criminals sitting in front of a monitor.


Ahsan Latif Imam

Ahsan Latif Imam

A graduate from Emile Wolf College, London, Ahsan is a partner in a family-run law firm.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Pessimist

    Good article! I’ve learned that there are a lot of Nigerian princes out there who need our help :)
    Btw, even if the law is passed, how will we teach the awareness about cyber crime? I say that we need to focus more on awareness.
    I fear for the day when the cyber criminals start using religion e.g. I need money for Hajj or Umra. Should that happen, then we will be in big trouble!! Recommend

  • Bunny

    Cyber Crime is one of the worst forms of psychological brain-teasing and torture.The victim feels as if the whole world hates them.And hence, Suicide or self-harming becomes an inevitable escape.Our Teens and specially the Young Girls are a victim of it.

    Every Other Day, we witness pictures of Young-Girls gone viral on the internet with offensive captions like ‘Hot-Pakistani-Girls’ and what not.We need to wake up!

    Numerous Cyber-Crimes have devastated the lives of hundreds of Pakistanis

    Pakistan Government needs a wake up callRecommend

  • Waleed Kazmi

    I wish it was uploaded bit earlier, jeez I just finished a project essay for “crime in cybercity”. This would’ve been a lot of help. But hey great essay!!Recommend

  • majid khan

    Thanks a lot Ahsan Imam, You did a lot and an excellent piece of work, we wish that our Government to pass the Bill as soon as possible.Recommend

  • muhammad saleem

    Dear Sir,

    Its really good work done by you for awareness that this law should be in the country for better future aspects, many of the Pakistanis facing too many problems by cyber criminalsRecommend

  • Cyber Criminal

    Financial crimes: seriously?
    Cyber pornography: neh
    Sale of illegal articles: nobody cares
    Online gambling: whats the harm in it
    Intellectual property crimes: like what?
    Email spoofing: again nobody cares
    Cyber stalking: keep your privacy settings tight :)
    Unauthorized access to computer systems\networks: okay this is your only valid point so far
    Theft of information contained in electronic form: information in electronic form? are you kidding me? its PAKISTAN, HELLO
    Virus/worm attacks, Logic bombs. Trojan attacks: BUY an antivirus
    Internet time theft: 99% of Pakistanis don’t even know what it is
    Password cracking: if your password is “abcdef” course its gonna get cracked so at the end of the day it is really your own fault for having a weak password
    Buffer overflow: the day you find a solution to stop it, do let me know

  • naila shah kazami

    hello Ahsan imam,

    I admire your work as the women in Pakistan are extremely facing severe problems on social media, I request you to please do your efforts more speedy being lawyer so that many women will be benefited from this lawRecommend

  • Tehniat waheed

    @Cyber Criminal:
    A stupid comment.!Recommend

  • Critical

    A point to all females don’t add your personal DP’s on your fb. If anyone makes your fake profile other then your personal pics then Hell Yeah.. what really matters ??

    One more thing mR. Tribune I know where you are trying to point out at …
    Pakistani Sites hacked by Pakistani Hackers also mentioned the reason / cause behind it.. You guys never discussed the reason behind it.

    Other then there is no such thing.. is Pakistan So Advanced in Technology ??

    To make traffic rules you must have roads with traffic also, else its useless…
    Hope you get my Point.Recommend

  • Critical

    Well i think that there are some more serious and important issues rather than this Cyber Criminal Threat Shit..

    Our nation has a RAM which got refreshed when rebooted..
    Target Killing , CNG blah blah blah… Give these things priority..Recommend

  • Haroon

    How to Register Complaint with FIA (Cyber Crime Wing)

    By Aamir Attaa · Thursday, Jan 7, 2010 65 Comments

    As we are getting into internet era, cyber crime rates are hiking in similar manner. Many of us don’t know how to legally challenge those criminal activities.

    A common internet or mobile phone user, who is victim of a cyber crime, thinks that there is no one to listen his/her pleas. Many of victims end up not registering any complaint.

    If you are victim of any sort of cyber crime, don’t sit idle, this is the time to react to get the culprits behind the bars. Registering a complaint with FIA’s cyber crime wing is very simple, and even does not require you to go anywhere.

    Simply write down your application (in English or in Urdu), narrate your complete problem, provide as much evidences, details as you can and send it to FIA National Response Center for Cyber Crimes(NR3C).

    Address this application to,

    To Director Cyber Crimes,
    FIA Heaquarters, Islamabad

    Write down your problem, with complete details… and in the end mention your name, contact numbers and addresses.

    Fax: 051-9266435
    Email: [email protected] (or fill this complaint form)

    In case of email, you will get a response email in 24 hours however it may take 7 days to get a letter by post at your given address in case of fax. You will be given a tracking number of your complaint, with what you may check the status of your complaint latter on.

    Please note that FIA accepts applications in only these two formats. Cyber Crime wing will not act unless you write them email or FAX. This is sort of FIR you register with Police.

    If you want to know what crimes come under Cyber Crime, read this PDF document (Electronic crimes related laws in Pakistan).

    You may call FIA Nr3C offices for consultation – Contact details are available here

    Tip: Don’t shy or fear of anything – FIA NR3C guys are pretty helping and very cool. If you are a victim, simply reach them at earliest.Recommend


    I do agree with Mr. Ahsan, a good effort on his part to get aware general public on this issue and urge to the parlimentarians to realize the factum of upcoming flood. One comment from the CYBER CRIMINAL is quite relevant, who darly spoken on the point of stealing informatnion in electronic form. I am not against such information to be circulated in general public but the reality is that due to lack of such facility we are safe to some extent otherwise where there is no legislation, how such kind of information could be protected. Might be this is one reason the parlimentarian are so slow just to wait for incident and demand from the general public to do their job and unless and untll get snared themselves such call would not be effect on them. I am too working these days on this issue to address it with the hope that legislatures shall realize their effective part to contribute towards miserries of the people.Recommend

  • moiz qureshi

    really nice article :) i admire ur work !! and ur effort.Recommend

  • agha mujeed ur rehman

    dear ahsan,

    I really appreciate that you have done an excellent job being a lawyer and expert, you are also reminded that Pakistan is facing too much now in this sector, websites hacked day by day, peoples facing phishing spoofing and much more but who is to listen where to report, people are helpless, and the most dangerous is that the serious organised crimes like terrorism is also now being through internet, I also on behalf of Pakistanis request the Government to please understand the changing crimes situation and enforce the law as soon as possible.Recommend

  • life

    I shall just comment on one thing, “black mailing girls”, showing the bitter reality is not black mailing. And above all parents should be held responsible first. There are so many cases, where the girls date guys without the knowledge of their parents, have affairs for years and years, use them and then get them abused by their parents. And it is all fair for them, why? Just because they are girls. Meeting a stranger through the internet should be a crime too, if the crime is committed by a girl, she should be sent to jail too. Especially if she is over 18, she is responsible, if she is under 18 and she has access to internet and is provoked by a guy enough to meet her and take pictures with her, her parents should be sent to jail for 3 to 10 years with an amount 500000 bail along with that guy and they should spent time together in jail happily ever after. With all due respect, when parents are not bothered when their daughters are dating behind their back, then they shouldn’t be having a right over whom she should or shouldn’t marry. Playing with emotions should be a considered as bigger crime than “black mailing”.Recommend

  • Saad Aftab

    @ cyber crime….
    seriously man you are trying to be over smart but the fact is you aint man… you are ignoring the facts and reality that ahsan iman is talking about… plus no one is this world stupid to make passwords like ( abcd) . grow up boy.. i think you must be living the world of 1st generation of computers… Recommend