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US funding $7.300 million Western Border Security Project: minister

LAHORE (November 12 2002) : Interior Minister Moin Uddin Haider said that the United States of America is funding $7.300 million 'Western Border Security Project (WBSP)' to strengthen the western border of Pakistan.

He was addressing the inaugural ceremony of recently installed Passenger Identification Secure Comparison and Evaluation System (PISCES) at the Lahore International Airport on Monday. Moin said that the project would help curb smuggling and illegal entrants and terrorists. He added that the US would provide funding for this project.

“Due to our weak border security system, Pakistan is bearing the burden of millions of such entrants, mostly entering into Pakistan through Afghan border,” he pointed out.

According to an estimate, over 2 million illegal entrants are living in Karachi alone, “and all this happened owing to our weak security on western border”, he pointed out. Under this project, the US government will provide helicopters, small aircraft, speedy vehicles and other machinery and equipment to monitor the border effectively.

Moreover, he said that the US government will provide another $ 13 million for building up Pakistan police force capacity. “We are also working on a project named 'Readable Machine Passport Project' to eliminate the chances of preparation of fake passports.”

The passports to be prepared under this project will be of international standard with no room for forgery.

About the project of PISCES, he said it is aimed at keeping computerised records of incoming and outgoing passengers to discourage all those travelling on fake passports and visas. This system has already been installed at Karachi and Islamabad Airports, and highly trained personnel are running it smoothly.

To run the system smoothly, as many as 200 highly qualified and computer literate girls have been recruited in Immigration Department. They are posted at their home stations so that they could talk with passengers in local language. After the new terminal at the Lahore Airport becomes operational, the system will be shifted to that side, he said.

Moin further said that this system would be installed at 18 places, including air, land, and sea routes to curb smuggling, terrorism and illegal entrants into Pakistan and it will be inter-linked through a network. After Lahore, this system will start working in Peshawar and Quetta in a couple of weeks.

He pointed out that this system was not only meant for terrorists, but would also enable the immigration department personnel to maintain all record of passengers and curb the practice of illegal travelling.

The installation of the system at all targeted places will cost $ 300 million. The US government is bearing all the expenditures on the project, he said.

Earlier, in his presentation, Ammar Jafrey, project director, said PISCES is a broader control system, which ensures the recording of exit/entry of travellers at any check-post. He added, the system basically works against a pre-defined match list and all those persons who have their match in the watch list are further interrogated to trace the illegal immigration practices.

PISCES would greatly help combat illegal immigration, human smuggling and keeping a systematic record of all incoming and outgoing passengers with relevant evidence, he said.

Though, this system is being launched with the assistance of US, yet its functionality and operations are being controlled totally by Pakistan government functionaries, he pointed out.

Director General, FIA, Director General, Rangers, IGP, Punjab and other officials also attended the ceremony.

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