ISLAMABAD: Security has been compromised in Islamabad as the Excise and Taxation Department has failed to install scanners or devices at police pickets for chip-based vehicle smart cards, Pakistan Today observed.
Smart cards which are prepared in collaboration with the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA), are not contactless, hence they create serious hurdles in the verification process at different police posts.
It may not be difficult to get a fake smart card made which poses a serious security threat to the federal capital. Due to the unavailability of scanners, the card goes unverified at various police posts in Islamabad.
Although NADRA’s efforts in establishing a system of smart cards have been satisfactory, the practical launch of the ‘vehicle identification cards’ system initiated by Excise and Taxation Department in 2015 is much awaited. It can only be put to practical use once the scanners or devices are installed at police pickets.
The step taken by the Excise and Taxation Department to replace the ubiquitous registration book by a chip-based smart vehicle identification card is a remarkable one. New vehicle identification cards come fitted with a microchip which contains information about the vehicle, owner and ensures security measures as well. It can appropriately ensure that a vehicle registered with a fake registration and number plate never goes through.
“The primary objective of the project was to convert the decades’ old system to a modern one in line with international standards,” said Muhammad Asif, Excise and Taxation Department official.
“Online checking of vehicles through smart cards identification can only be possible by the installation of scanners as the cards are based on a touch device mechanism, ” elaborated Asif.
He further said that the department of Safe City Project directed the Excise and Taxation Department to issue smart cards. However, they did not provide the scanners.
The vehicle smart card identification card is easier to carry compared to the registration book of the vehicle. In case, a smart card is lost, data (vehicle’s registration information and the owners) remains intact.
Responding to a question, Excise and Taxation Department official said that a total of eight lac fifty thousand vehicles are registered under the department. Out of the total, one lac eighteen thousand seven hundred vehicles have been issued smart identification cards.
Muhammad Sher, a sub-inspector in the Traffic Police, said that due to the non-availability of scanners at check-posts in Islamabad, traffic policemen are facing immense difficulties in verifying vehicle documents and their owners.
Superintendent Traffic Police Khalid Rasheed said that we let the vehicle pass after we have a look at the smart card.
IT expert, Asif, said that vehicles smart cards identification can be attacked by different wi-fi networks but only advanced technology of encryption (to prevent unauthorised access) and decryption (reverse process of encryption) can be used to secure data regarding vehicles.
The officials from Safe City Project said that meetings are being conducted so that things are streamlined and the project can begin to work practically.
Upon contact, Motorway Police PRO Mehmood Ali Khokhar said , “We deal with the already security cleared vehicles since the security clearance is the responsibility of local police.”
He further explained that the launch of a new technology is usually always supported by an issued notice and a meeting where the responsibilities of the concerned departments are assigned. However, nothing of this sort was experienced in this project, he explained.
Talking to Pakistan Today, director Excise and Taxation Mariam Mumtaz, said that it is not the department’s responsibility to install scanners at police pickets. “We are working to perform our assigned duty which is to issue vehicles smart cards to the citizens.”