Pakistanis turn to crime-fighting app to screen new hires

Pakistanis turn to crime-fighting app to screen new hires
People embark on a foot-over bridge to enter in Rawalpindi from Islamabad on February 9, 2021. (AFP)
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Updated 13 February 2021

Pakistanis turn to crime-fighting app to screen new hires

Pakistanis turn to crime-fighting app to screen new hires
  • Criminals using employee links to carry out robberies and murders, police warn

KARACHI: Last November, spa owner Laeeq Akbar decided to use an app called Tasdeeq to screen a new employee she was hiring for her business in Karachi, Pakistan’s financial hub.

It turned out that the man had a criminal record and had been involved in a series of muggings.

“Technology helped me save myself from falling prey to a criminal at my workplace,” Akbar told Arab News, saying the man she almost hired had a record of robbing commuters at traffic signals at night while working for other employers.

“We are relieved to have this digital vetting,” she said.

The Safe Pakistan Welfare Trust, which launched Tasdeeq in collaboration with Karachi’s Citizens-Police Liaison Committee and police last August, aims to bring more than 50 million blue-collar workers out of poverty, its founders have said.

In December, the campaign went nationwide with a launch event inaugurated by Interior Minister Sheikh Rasheed Ahmad in Islamabad. The trust has also signed a memorandum of understanding with the Ministry of Economic Affairs Division of the government of Pakistan.

About 61,230 people have downloaded the application since its launch, of which 11,784 users are from Karachi’s south district. More than 21,766 workers are registered, and 602 people with criminal records have been identified through the app.

The app is already being used in the provinces of Sindh, Punjab and Balochistan, as well as the capital, Islamabad, and the trust plans to sign agreements with authorities in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, as well as in Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan.

“The next phase will engage employers to work toward poverty alleviation,” Asfandyar Janjua, co-founder of the trust, told Arab News.

“Tasdeeq Pakistan is a multi-phase, multi-pronged social impact initiative that aims to change on one hand, the way domestic workers and blue-collar labor is hired, and on the other — through education and advocacy — work towards the economic improvement and poverty alleviation of hard-working and honest domestic workers and blue-collar labor,” the app said on its website. “Technology will be leveraged to help them break the vicious cycle of poverty.”

Registered workers under Tasdeeq have verifiable work histories and in return receive hospital and accidental insurance, and funding for their children’s education from employers, as well as emergency and microloans from financial institutions.

The app’s website cites a police statistic that warns that 60 percent of robberies, banditry, kidnapping and murders are carried out directly or indirectly through the active involvement of inside workers.

In November last year, police said they killed five robbers in Karachi’s affluent DHA area following reports of rising burglaries. The robbers, police said, were part of a notorious gang that carried out crimes in upscale neighborhoods with the help of domestic workers.

“We’ve found many cases of thefts involving domestic servants, and in most of these cases, either identity cards were fake or unavailable because they weren’t verified before hiring,” Deputy Inspector General of Police Javed Akbar told Arab News, who added that apps like Tasdeeq will help minimize crime.

Atif Bin Arif, founder of MyGHAR, a housing solution for working professionals and students, said the Tasdeeq app had helped him vet job candidates.

“We vetted some of our incoming applications and as they were flagged by the police and CPLC in real-time, it helped us take immediate action,” Arif said.

Ahmed Rehan, who runs an Islamabad-based security company, also said he had used Tasdeeq to verify new employees.

“In the past, we had to send a resource to the police station for verification, which was a cumbersome exercise,” he said, “but now we enter the CNIC number and get complete data in real-time.”