Pakistan launches new, centralized biometric database

Published 28 January 2008

Using $13 million in U.S. aid, and Lockheed Martin’s technology, the Pakistani government launches a new fingerprint database to allow police in the country’s provinces more quickly to identify criminals and terrorists

Interesting news from Pakistan: The caretaker government — caretaker, that is, until the March parliamentary elections — on Friday launched Automated Fingerprint Identification System (PAFIS) to provide a centralized database of fingerprints to help hunt down criminals and terrorists. The government said it was an historic occasion and “a quantum leap to provide better and effective policing.” The system that will eventually be integrated with country’s border control system, called PISCES (Personal Identification Secure Comparison and Evaluation System) and a forensic laboratory will help the investigators in their task. The system, with a central database at Islamabad, is hooked up to remote stations in 52 districts of the country having access to 122,000 fingerprints of criminals. The database is being upgraded to 440,000 prints, providing top-of-the-line biometrics identification technology.

Prime Minister Mohammadmian Soomro said that use of technology was vital for capacity building of the police officials and to help them train better, investigate, and track down perpetrators of crime. He stressed the need to have a better working environment for the law enforcing personnel and said it was vital to keep them properly motivated. The prime minister said the system would connected to other databases, and that it could be used by the new system of fingerprints, also to be kept with the banks and other institutions. Soomro pointed out that the neww database is part of a broader e-governance and online access initiatives to enable the police more effectively to deal with criminals and terrorists. He was also appreciative of the U.S. assistance in the project and said the two countries would continue with intelligence sharing and collaboration in fighting crimes.

The PAFIS project, which began in 2005, will enable the law enforcement agencies a quick comparison from the database, through fiber and satellite linkage, a task that otherwise took weeks or even a month. The U.S. State Department has provided $13 million dollars for the project, which is an integral part of U.S. efforts to improve police service of Pakistan.

The Pakistani Federal Investigative Agency (FIA) is using Lockheed Martin’s fingerprint identification system. PAFIS is a variant of a similar systems used by the FBI and the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD).

The remaining 80 districts of Pakistan will be connected to the Central Site in the 2nd phase beginning June this year.The Automated Fingerprint Identification System will later be integrated with Police Record and Office Management Information System (PROMIS), National Forensic Science Agency, and will be followed by provision of a nationwide Integrated Radio Communication System for Police.