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A man poses for a photograph as he reads a magazine at the office of FactFinders, a private detective agency, in Lahore September 28, 2012. — Photo by Reuters

LAHORE: Twenty-three years of military service come in handy when Masood Haider gets a call from a suspicious spouse.

He quickly dispatches a surveillance team to keep tabs on the partner believed to be heading off for an illicit rendezvous.

In Pakistan where arranged marriages are common and adultery can be punished by death, it is an illustration of how much the society is changing that Haider's private detective agency exists at all.

“What was taken as taboo 20 to 25 years ago is no more taken that way,” said Haider, 53, a former army pilot who founded FactFinders, Pakistan's first licensed private detective agency.

The business of exposing cheating spouses, he says, is growing.

“People simply understand that if two people cannot live under one roof and they cannot co-exist peacefully it is better to disengage and carry on with their lives instead of dragging it on.”

Pakistan portrays itself as a progressive Islamic nation. But since the 1980s, it has been drifting towards a more conservative interpretation of Islam that has reshaped the political landscape, fuelled militancy and cowed champions of tolerance into silence.

Women are becoming increasingly assertive about confronting unfaithful spouses. So are men.

“When I opened this company I was not sure whether Pakistani men would confide in me regarding their wives,” said Haider, in his spacious office in the city of Lahore where he began his venture on Valentine's Day two years ago.

“But to my surprise the first case I received was of a cheating wife.”

His services do not come cheap. The down payment for FactFinders to check on an unfaithful partner is $5,500; out of reach of most people who on average bring home just $60 a month.

Clients are mostly wealthy Pakistanis who live here, or in Britain, the United States or United Arab Emirates and want to keep a close eye on spouses or fiances from afar.

His investigations are not restricted to cases of infidelity.

One man, for example, desperately wanted him to retrieve a stolen computer with compromising pictures of his naked wife.

But it is mostly husbands or wives tormented by suspicion of cheating who turn to Haider.

His website promises to “Off load your burden with full confidentiality” with the suggestive image of a turned-over high heeled-shoe beside a wine glass. To reinforce the point, another photograph shows a luxury car splashed with graffiti from an angry wife or girlfriend.

Emergency Hotline For the really desperate, there is an emergency hotline.

“I think if women could afford it, 80 per cent of Pakistani women would be here,” said one woman client.

“In our culture women are discouraged. They are expected to suck it up and be quiet about it. I am done with the being scared part.”

His staff of 30, scattered across Pakistan with a few in Britain for clients there, are recruited from retired military and police officers and the financial industry.

Fatima, 32, worked for Britain's Scotland Yard before joining Haidar's outfit, where she does research and manages surveillance teams and other operations.

“In a country like Pakistan, we should promote such things (businesses). There is nothing bad about it.”

Some philanderers go to creative extremes to avoid being caught.

A wealthy Karachi man posed as a rent-a-car driver when meeting his lover. To keep a closer watch, Haider deployed a female detective agent disguised as a maid in the woman's house.

“So, under one roof, the driver was not the driver and the maid was not the maid. It was 'The Bold and the Beautiful' going on in real life,” said Haider, referring to the US television soap opera.

Most infidelity takes place in the first five years of marriage or 20 years into married life, he pointed out.

The indiscretions may be one reason why divorce rates are rising.

The Islamabad Arbitration Council, where divorces are officially registered, says the number of broken marriages, have doubled in the last ten years.

In 2011, there were 557 divorces filed in the capital Islamabad alone, compared to 208 in 2002.

Even after 150 cases, some still shock Haider.

“A client caught his wife red-handed in the bedroom with her lover,” said Haider, who has grey hair and a light mustache and retired from the army in 2000. “Instead of being ashamed, she blamed the lover for being caught.”

“'It is because of this idiot that I was caught. Otherwise I was doing it for three years',” Haider laughingly quoted her as telling her husband. “I thought 'look at the guts of this lady'.”

Comments (35) Closed

JustSaying Oct 03, 2012 10:50pm
@Rev. Eldrick Lal:
JustSaying Oct 03, 2012 11:01pm
Differs from state to state. Property is split half. The adulteress gets half as well as the children if any. Many women use this quick rich method when they already have a lover or two on the side. It is the attorney who gains the most, not law, justice, or equity. Divorce and adultery is big business in the west as is the demand for private detective business. Most of the population is divorced, some many times over.
Syed Oct 03, 2012 09:29pm
this is funny, women cheating on men, camon guys, we know better that men are good at cheating, there is no way women can win, but nice try Mr. author trying to portray women as black sheeps of the society, afterall, its a man's world !!! lol
Arsalan Oct 04, 2012 01:50am
I think both men and women of this society are to be blamed equally and punished, now that's another discussion, but hats off for providing this service as exposing the truth is far better than concealing what's immoral a) and b) not realizing a mistake as a mistake. This is a first step towards realization and hopefully redemption for all concerned. May Allah have mercy on this miserable lot of people and guide them out of these dark ages
Yawar Oct 04, 2012 01:35am
Hopefully this will keep rich people from cheating on their spouses. Wishful thinking.
Amir Oct 02, 2012 05:46pm
So the cheater is not ruining anyone's life? Also, they don't just pick a target. Understand what a marriage is - its two people becoming one - its a shared privacy. Either can go to a detective and ask for an investigation. Nothing wrong in that. What is wrong is the cheating. If you don't catch them they will keep doing it. Why get married if you are going to cheat?
Muhammad Shoaib Oct 02, 2012 05:52pm
i want to join as a private i can find in Pakistan?
gita Oct 02, 2012 02:54pm
This is understandable. evolution of societies from agrarian into modern urban societies creates pressures, which take a toll on conventional marriages. People do not delibrately plan on cheating on their spouces. Their relationship goes through tough times and the only way to stay in the institution of marriage and yet deal with pressures, they look for outlets. In another 100 years, relationships will be more transient and detectives will have to seek alternate business
Babu Oct 03, 2012 08:32am
Humanbeings are part of animal kingdom.
Amir Oct 02, 2012 05:48pm
Absolutely in the right direction. Checks and balances are necessary. If they are not their then one party will always be subjugated.
Raw is War Oct 02, 2012 07:54am
Amir Oct 02, 2012 05:51pm
Yes you can video record. The only difference in the law is the law of divorce in Pakistan is different. We do not have the concept of community property where both husband and wife own everything jointly. Therefore even if a case was made for adultery the wife will not get any benefit besides having the grounds for a divorce. In the west a cheating spouse is held responsible for the break up of the partnership and is held liable for cost and punitive damages.
Amir Oct 02, 2012 05:47pm
We can safely put him out of business by not cheating. Why do we always blame the other for the wrongs we do?
Awais Oct 02, 2012 07:29am
Good job, but I am sure it would be tough to be a private detective in Pakistan. Does the same law applies there, as in the US or Canada? Can someone be video-recorded? Is the evidence admissible in a court of law? Thanks and best of luck!
TK from USA Oct 03, 2012 05:58pm
He is a detective, what part of it you don't understand?
asif Oct 03, 2012 09:38am
I wonder how the man got the idea for making this firm? hmmmmmm......any ideas guys?
Agha Ata (USA) Oct 03, 2012 01:13pm
And, would you? . . . Really? :)
T J K Oct 03, 2012 12:09pm
A correction needs to be done here. Masood Haider , army no 19363, was court martialled in 2000. The famous Quetta s.. scandal. CNBC recently exposed him when he admitted in a secretly recorded interview, he pays mobile companies to get sms data and call record. He is carrying an illegal activity, in parallel to law agencies. Ministry on Interior is carrying out an inquiry !
Umer Oct 03, 2012 06:53am
Good business... lot of faltu in Karachi can startup.. low initial investment i believe !
mike Oct 02, 2012 08:53pm
wow. Pakistan is no different..... to the dismay of a society which believes in denial.
Razzaq Oct 02, 2012 07:22pm
An eye opener for our forced antique society.
Ammar Oct 03, 2012 05:30am
Devoid of morality. The society is heading towards its doom. We in the east valued morality above anything. I just dont understand this. U dont want to live with your spouse just divorce and remarry. what saddens me more is the way most of us consider this a laughing thing. Alas.. liberalism, secularism at the cost of what???
Wanderer Oct 03, 2012 04:54am
Whats wrong in it? :S
AB Oct 03, 2012 04:11am
What motive could be behind a 3 year long extra-marital affair, adultery worth 3 years ... Come on Sir. Regardless of the motive for that Lady ... two wrongs can not make a right and her actions can not be Justified under any circumstance.
Gm awan Oct 02, 2012 11:50am
good job
abdul Oct 03, 2012 03:38am
Easy Money. What happens in American media is contagious to pakistan.
BNS Oct 02, 2012 10:49pm
Interesting read, and hats off to the bold lady.
Humayun Bhatty Oct 02, 2012 12:07pm
But in the wrong direction.
Omair Oct 02, 2012 09:44pm
Sounds like an exaggerated story to me!
Sarfraz Oct 02, 2012 03:01pm
We are becoming from a nation to the nation of naked people, both morally and physically.
Agha Ata (USA) Oct 02, 2012 02:05pm
The institution of marriage is a sinking ship, but it might take a little more than 100 years (in Pakistan)before it vanishes. So Mr. Detective, you have around 80 years to run your business at the top gear. And by then the guts of ladies would be touching the roof. Did you say, how old you were at the moment??
hammad Oct 02, 2012 07:42am
we sure are progressing :) lol
zach Oct 02, 2012 02:26pm
So you just go and ruin anyone's privacy on anyone's direction or request. You can't know the hidden motive behind that. Congrats you've found a new way to loot people.
Amir Oct 03, 2012 02:34pm
I don't know about him but a good friend of mine got involved in it by accident. He was asked to confirm a prospective grooms credentials. He jokingly asked for money to cover expenses and the bride's parents willingly gave it to him. That's how he got started. Unfortunately, his health did not permit him to keep on going.
Rev. Eldrick Lal Oct 02, 2012 05:38pm
I repudiate the domination of a wife by a husband so often witnessed in many cultures. Rather, I believe that the man should admire and elevate his wife. He is basically a provider for her spiritual, emotional, and physical needs.