A meeting of the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Information Technology on Thursday witnessed a curious discussion on the security of important data as an official of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) claimed that the system of the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) had been hacked. He later changed his statement when pressed to elaborate upon his remarks.

“We have discovered that Nadra’s data has been compromised, it has been hacked,” Tariq Pervez, additional director of FIA’s Cybercrime Wing, told the meeting chaired by Ali Khan Jadoon. The FIA had seized around 13,000 illegal SIMs during a crackdown in Faisalabad, he said.

Pervez said that 89,000 complaints have been received by his wing, but they did not have enough staff to address the complaints reported on a daily basis.

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“The FIA’s cybercrime wing has only 162 investigation officers,” he added.

Pervez’s statement caught the attention of the committee members who put various questions to him regarding the theft of Nadra data. After this accusation, the FIA’s additional director altered his statement and said that Nadra’s data had not been hacked, but its biometric system had been compromised and used during the SIM verification process.

He further informed the committee that whenever they traced a suspect involved in financial frauds, the suspect mostly turned out to be an elderly man or a woman, whose data was being used by someone else.

Nadra, refuting the claim of the FIA official in a statement, said, “The FIA statement regarding hacking of biometric data is based on misunderstanding,” adding that Nadra would seek clarification from the FIA over the “unnecessary statement and misrepresentation of the issue”.

Responding to concerns of the committee members, Pakistan Telecommuni­ca­tion Authority (PTA) chairman retired Maj Gen Amir Azeem Bajwa said that complaints could be lodged against those involved in sending messages related to financial fraud at the PTA website.

Jadoon of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), the chairman of the committee, stressed that it was essential to keep national interest and national perspective into consideration while formulating laws.