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Tuesday Mar 23 2021
Web Desk

Privacy and security in Pakistan: can we have both?

Web Desk
Author Dr Akbar Nasir Khan. Illustration: Aisha Nabi/

Pakistan’s Constitution protects privacy rights at home, but does little else to protect the fundamental right in any other sphere.

Article 14(1) of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan states that "[t]he dignity of man and, subject to law, the privacy of home, shall be inviolable."

But how far does this protect your privacy?

Not much, says author Dr Akbar Nasir Khan, who believes this section of the Constitution needs to be amended to make room for a wider scope of privacy rights for Pakistanis.

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This right is majorly only taken as a right to protect an individual from any unlawful entry and access to personal space in their home and confined to four walls of each household. The question is: what of your privacy outside your home?

Dr Khan wants Pakistanis to talk more about the delicate balance between privacy and security and how it affects the common man. He highlights the issue of privacy in his book, ‘Privacy and Surveillance: public preferences in Pakistan’, launched last week.

Akbar Nasir Khan’s book 'Privacy and Surveillance: public preferences in Pakistan' being launched at the Iqbal Institute for Research and Dialogue of International Islamic University. Photo: Courtesy International Islamic University/ Facebook

There is a dearth of laws and systems in place in Pakistan to not only regulate, but also propagate and spread awareness on the concepts of privacy and security, believes Dr Khan.

A PhD from the University of Portsmouth in UK, a civil servant in the police services group, and a pioneer in setting up the safe city project in Lahore, Dr Khan is keenly interested in initiating a debate on the security vs privacy topic. Dr Khan says there is a dire need of public awareness on privacy rights.

Read more: LHC approached to regulate the use of CCTV cameras

He spoke to about the youth and how they need to be mindful in today’s digital age of privacy. “Children should be aware of their right to privacy on their mobile phones and similarly, they should be taught that this is a right they should be respecting themselves as well,” he said.

You need to be aware of who is taking your pictures, making your videos, he said.

Media, Dr Khan believes, is an integral tool to propagate awareness on the issue of privacy and security and the need for regulation systems.

He stressed that the public needs to be taken into confidence when institutions set out to work on security in public spaces.

His book is available at Saeed Books, Mr Books in Islamabad. You can also order it online from the Iqbal Institute for Research and Dialogue.