A National Assembly (NA) panel will discuss a proposal to establish a national centre on cybercrime on Tuesday next week, which has been prepared by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The only problem? There are two very similar national centres on cybercrime which already exist, are doing important work and need more parliamentary attention.

One of these is the National Centre for Cyber Security (NCCS), which was inaugurated by then Federal Minister for Interior Ahsan Iqbal in June 2018, with the aim to protect the country’s cyberspace, economy, and infrastructure from cyber-attacks. The centre, which has given the mandate to eleven universities to establish affiliated labs in different specialised areas of cybersecurity, is unique in its field as it puts work into facilitating both theoretical aspects of cybersecurity as well as branching out in the practice. Another facility, the National Response Centre for Cybercrime is a crime-fighting unit to curb cybercrime and technological abuse.

Both of these organisations are doing integral work to regulate the cyberspace world as technological advancements increase at the speed of light. The National Response Centre has been widely used particularly by disadvantaged groups, including women, children and minorities, as a large number of cybercrimes, including doxing, hacking, leaking of private information and harassment targets vulnerable groups. A recent plea by women journalists asking for the government to stop mass cyberbullying and harassment directed towards women on the internet has made clear the need for the government to invest more in this department.

The NCCS is also a centre which is extremely important for national security purposes and was established on the right mark. As more and more foreign-made apps and software are used in Pakistan, it leaves the country’s cyberspace more susceptible to threats and cyber intrusions. The international wars of the future will be fought over data and information, and Pakistan needs a well-equipped research centre for it.

These issues need to be discussed seriously and with adequate knowledge by the NA before they pass any proposal on it. There should not be any needless overlap with the creation of another centre—the existing two should be strengthened.