The tactic of forming a JIT as a means to quell opposition has actually become the ruling party’s forte. In the past three and a half years, the government has often used JITs on issues as eyewash, to distract the public and make a grand show of the state intervening, when in actuality, the decisions do not have any force in court. On Monday, the Chief Justice (CJ) of the Sindh High Court (SHC) finally said what we had all been thinking; that Joint Investigation Teams (JIT) do not have legal and evidentiary value.

The best example of this is the JIT formed after the Model Town clashes between PAT workers and PML-N workers and policemen. In fact, any of the JITs formed after major terrorist attacks such as the one in Quetta fail to uncover any real evidence. The government would like to disagree, and sure, it has a right to do so, but even if we accept the possibility of a smidgen of benefit coming from forming JITs, why have none of them ever led to a tangible decrease of repeat occurrences?

The problem extends to the criminal system in its entirety and the JIT is merely a symptom in this all-encompassing illness. The First Information Report (FIR) for instance, is an outdated mode of initiating criminal proceedings and investigations, a colonial leftover from bygone days. Only three countries in the world still use it – Pakistan, Bangladesh and India. While the police of other countries act on the ‘investigate first’ principle – whereby they act the minute a call or a complaint comes in, and file a report after trying to prevent the crime in question – the public in Pakistan is often left feeling disenchanted after a call or a visit to the police station results in officers refusing to file FIRs and even asking for bribes to do their jobs, overt displays of inefficiency and incompetency. The FIR becomes the dominant document in any case, and any evidence that is orally submitted to the police can only be used as corroboration evidence, including picture and video evidence.

Developed nations have also implemented modern forms of data-keeping to prevent corruption and ineptitude. Reports are filed into databases to prevent tampering, citizens have the option to file reports online in the UK and other places, and law enforcement agencies are bound to investigate and do their jobs with due diligence. Pakistan must also climb out of the dark ages, and look to improve methods of investigation; at this point, from top to bottom, the first aspect of policing and enforcing the law (investigation) lies completely unaddressed.