Seventy-six years after independence, Pakistan remains no country for the weak and vulnerable. In Pakistan, the police illicitly execute thousands annually, citing resistance or assault attempts on officers as reasons in police records. But figures of police injury are scarce and narrate tales that belie claims of armed exchanges.
According to statistics on police encounters, 612 accused were killed by Punjab police in the last five years with the highest score of 186 in 2021 and 124 until September 2022. As an editorial in Dawn notes, “the rise in this menace makes for a dispiriting state of law and order; innocents are killed to either protect feudal or political powerbrokers, curry material favours or fill record books as officers race to surpass ‘encounter’ tallies or settle personal enmities. While rogue officers stage murders, our failed legal system cannot be absolved, as such gruesome tactics are perpetrated to bypass it. A woeful aspect is the wild applause from the public; weary of legal processes, it is forced to prefer instant justice.”
The Dawn editorial warns that “glorified by media as super cops and others as alleged ‘encounter specialists’ police officers embark on killing sprees with impunity. It is essential that the police hierarchy, administration, and the courts beat the clock with expeditious accountability. These crimes should have definite consequences as obsolete colonial laws, which gave the police a free hand, must be abandoned. Along with a toughened criminal justice system, law enforcers should have resources, equipment, training, confidence and encouragement to nurture a climate of safety and justice.”