The incident of child abuse in Kasur was able to steer debate into the right direction. The anger was equally directed at everyone involved. It included parents and guardians who, out of shyness, do not talk to their children about abuse, it was targeted at security officials who are unable to provide security to the citizens and carry out timely investigations, and it was also targeted at the government officials who in such cases deflect responsibility. While this prompted every organ to be vigilant, the debate that followed has not been healthy and practical for the state.

After Imran Ali confessed to the crime, there have been voices in the system seeking public execution for the offender. Since everyone in the system, even progressive voices that are generally against the death penalty, were raising their voice for a public execution, it seemed inevitable that the government would adopt this approach in a knee-jerk fashion. However, saner voices in the system pointed out how the move is regressive and an epitome of the dictatorial times of Pakistan - which we do not want to revert back to.

The fact that the Law Ministry this Wednesday suggested publicly displaying the body after execution continues this morbid obsession with public execution - and opens up the same debate all over again. Even the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) suggesting to increase the number of execution witnesses to 40 in order to set a precedent is the wrong approach. The proper precedent to set in this case is to empower the police officials in order to carry out investigations in a better manner; involving forensic evidence in these cases would be a good start. At the same time, it is also important to empower the judicial system to be able to take on these cases. The fact that the Supreme Court (SC) has to take notice of these cases reflects that the lower courts need to be empowered enough to resolve these cases.

Criminals will stop when they are aware that courts will take action and the law enforcement is vigilant. If fear created out of harsh public punishments actually caused deterrence, then by now cases of child abuse being reported would have lowered in number since we already award the maximum penalty for the offence.

However that has not changed. In order to set positive precedents, it is important to take the right course of action. Public displays are regressive policies which should not be adopted again. The answer lies in empowering the entire set up.