Islamabad: The capital city will be soon under the eye of ‘security cameras’, as the government is all set to make operational the Safe City Project in the next couple of weeks. Federal Minister of Interior Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan in the next coming days would inaugurate the project and with this Islamabad would become the first city of the country to remain under the surveillance of security cameras. Like any capital of the advanced world, including London metropolitican that has security cameras everywhere, any one can now see HD high-resolution security cameras all around the city in Islamabad.

The Safe City Projected was approved by the last PPP regime in 2009 but initiated by the incumbent government under the efforts of Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan. The project is being launched with the help of a private company of China that is providing high-resolution movable and immovable 4 G security cameras and other equipment. Under the project, as many as 1950 surveillance cameras are being installed throughout capital and at one of the main arteries of Rawalpindi.

“We have installed cameras at all most all the main points of city that had been earlier pinpointed in the project and the remaining would be installed at a few left over points,” an official of the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) said. He said that under the project, cameras had been installed at all the entry and exit points so that the whole city would remain under the watchful eyes of the capital police. A command and control centre of the Safe City project having area of more than 2,000 sq meters has been established at H-11 that will be jointly controlled by Islamabad Police and NADRA officials. All the cameras have been connected through fibre optic cable operated through a 4G network.

The command and control centre is being connected with the Nadra database to reach out the details of any suspect under the surveillance of these cameras. The centre would also conduct surveillance of all vehicles entering and leaving the Islamabad. The project is equipped with softwares such as facial recognition and vehicle management systems. “The cameras have face recognition features and any person under the range of these cameras could be recognized through Nadra Database system,” the official said adding that the system could be extended while connecting with the database of vehicles. However, some Nadra officials contest this claim saying cameras would not be able to recognize the face.

With the start of the project, a rapid response force in Islamabad would be at the disposal of the command and control centre. With any suspicious activity any where in the city that could be seen through these cameras, the rapid response force would come into action and reach the spot within the minimum time period, an official of the Islamabad Police said. Tahir Akram Director General (DG) Human Resource Nadra is presently looking into the project following unceremonious removal of previous project director (PD) Safe City Project Shahid Hamid over alleged illegal recruitments in the project.

Some weeks back, Shahid Hamid, member Nadra and PD Safe City Project had told interior minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan in a meeting that the project would become operational before 10th of Muhrram-ul-Haram. “We will conduct surveillance of the main procession of Muharram in Islamabad through these cameras,” he had told the minister. However, the management failed to fulfil this deadline. The Safe City Project had been facing delays since it was approved by last PPP regime in December 2009 following an agreement between China and Pakistan.

The Chinese government had agreed to provide $124 million for the project, in the form of a soft loan with the condition that security cameras and other equipment would be bought by Chinese company. Later on, Interior Ministry during the stint of Interior Minister Rehman Malik gave the contract to Hauwei Tech Ltd. The project faced a setback recently when Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan terminated all 37 employees working under it on the complaints of their illegal recruitment. The PD Shahid Hamid was also issued a show cause notice.

The son of incumbent Inspector General off Police (IGP) Islamabad Tahir Alam was the significant one among terminated employees. The project faced delays in the past due to allegations of corruption, including that the contract to the Chinese company was awarded in a non-transparent manner and the cameras were bought at higher rates than the existing international prices.

The project was challenged in the Supreme Court in 2012 and the apex court struck down the contract while directing the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to probe the matter. Later, NAB also gave clearance to the project. Soon after the incumbent government came into power, it decided to go ahead with the project with the previous terms and conditions. However, present interior minister re-negotiated it with the Chinese company and got made some changes in it.