Private detectives are here now to serve and spy on you
By Shahzada Irfan Ahmed
Zubaida Jamil, 50, a resident of Walton Road, Lahore, is worried about the future of her only daughter. She wants to marry her off at the earliest, but is suspicious of every suitor who visits their house.
Her fears are not unfounded. She has learnt things the hard way: Twice in the past her daughter”s engagements were broken when they found out that the fiancées were not what their families had portrayed them to be. Being a widow and mother of only one child, she knows all her property will ultimately be transferred to her daughter. That”s why she is on the hunt for a financially well-established and morally sound boy for her daughter.
In one of the cases, she discovered that the car that the visiting family claimed belonged to their son had been borrowed from someone.
Zubaida is not the only one in our society who is wary of such cases of misrepresentation while looking for a suitable match for the children of marriageable age; especially when the traditional means to verify credentials are also unreliable, and so often offend those coming under the scanner.
Against this backdrop, the launch of a private detective firm in Lahore, with the name of Fact Finders, has come as a breath of fresh air for such people. Among other services, it offers premarital screening of individuals.
The related section on the firm”s website www.factfinders.com.pk states: “The purpose of taking a premarital investigation before your wedding is to help the two of you receive an objective assessment of potential problems and issues in your relationship.
“They (investigations) are NOT designed to tell you whether or not you should get married, but to help you realise and deal with differences in your expectations, family backgrounds, and personality traits. Ignoring these issues in your marriage could result in serious marital problems. Feel free to contact Fact Finders on this very important aspect before you fix the wedding date.”
The services on offer are not limited. Interestingly the firm claims it is adept in conducting investigations of all types. To name a few, it carries out identity verifications, infidelity investigations, probes real estate frauds, tracks movements of cheating/unfaithful wives or husbands, discovers the “other man” and the “other woman”, screens aspiring tenants on behest of landlords, facilitates recovery of money, helps recover vehicles for banks, verifies visa applicants” credentials for embassies, does pre-employment screening of jobseekers and tries to solve old (criminal/civil) cases which are not being followed properly.
Though the concept of private detective firms is common in developed countries, it is a new phenomenon in Pakistan. People are curious to know about this firm, its structure, its modus operandi and the local laws under which it is operating.
The firm in questions is a bit secretive in its operations and has not disclosed its physical location on the website. Clients can contact it only at the mobile numbers and email address given there.
Shahid Ghani Advocate, a Lahore-based lawyer and foreign education and immigration consultant, tells TNS there is a dire need of a reliable private detective firm in the country. “But what”s more important is that there should be constant monitoring of the firm to ensure that its sleuthing activities do not cause harm to people.”
To explain his point, he refers to the service called “Activity Report” offered by Fact Finders and says this is an individualised assignment that helps in determining a person”s day-to-day activities and the whereabouts and actions of a subject of interest.
He says the firm claims it can provide details of “what a person is doing, how, when and where a person spends his/her day and night in a given timeframe requested by the client.” Besides, the firm says it monitors all the movements of a subject including where the subject goes, whom the subject meets, which vehicle the subject is using etc, he says adding: “If this can help trap unscrupulous elements it can also lead to abduction of people if the client is out for mischief.”
Founding member of Fact Finders, Masood, tells TNS that changing times and trends in crime ask for adoption of modern techniques to investigate matters. “In the past parents were not worried about what their children were doing as they were always in their view. But now with the advent of mobile phones, internet etc the situation could be totally different. Parents are afraid that their children may come into contact with terrorists or fall in the hands of cyber stalkers who can abuse them.”
Masood dispels the impression that the sleuths working for them may cause undue harm to people and overstep the limits imposed by law. He says the firm is registered with the government and operates within the legal framework. “Our basic principle is that we should always be on the right side of the law.” He says they are also trying to affiliate themselves with detective firms in California, US and UK. “There are 150 firms in California alone and it is only the beginning in Pakistan.”
Not willing to share their modus operandi, he says, there is collaboration with the government agencies in some cases. “We are in talks with certain embassies who may ask us to do initial screening of visa applicants on their behalf.”
Masood says they have not publicised their postal address as they may become vulnerable to assaults by the aggrieved parties. It is the sensitivity of the work that demands such measures.