The Punjab government remains committed to displaying its penchant for unveiling grand schemes, and it has finally commenced the Safe City Project in Lahore, which will be operational by the first week October – its high-tech command, control, and communications system, all intact. With ample controversy regarding this project from the beginning, perhaps, with its new inauguration, the government has finally made sure it has solid assurances for its critics.

The experts for this project have called this ‘a new paradigm to fit modern cities and the rising cost of manpower; it combines the street patrolman’s intuitive approach with state-of-the-art observation, communication, and information management’. This may look like an out of the box initiative by the government, but the number of cities improving on policing techniques by using surveillance cameras continues to grow. However, the flaws remain – both in practicality and budget. The slippery slope argument of whether the government understands where it needs to draw the line – where it is providing adequate security but also respecting the rights of its citizens – can also be made. Some experts claim that this facilitates the creation of a police state that is constantly monitoring its civilians. But in Pakistan’s case, this argument does not hold too much weight, with the security situation being as tumultuous as it is.

The government appointed police officers to technical slots in the team, where they should have only hired highly-qualified professionals. Moreover, there is no talk of what the procedure is to train this task force, one so comfortable in conventional ways, to actually operate these cameras and familiarise themselves to a digitised system. Are they mechanisms to address any wear and tear of this operation, or will it simply be left to deteriorate beyond repair?

Neighbourhood surveillance in Lahore, and rest of the country can perhaps be better dealt it, if a comprehensive procedure is intact.