It is a strange coincidence, that whenever an accountability process starts, or media reports highlight gross financial or administrative irregularities, a fire erupts, destroying important files and evidence. Important government offices and major commercial organizations the world over maintain micro filming records of such files stored in computers as back up. 

In 2007 within a period of six months, fire engulfed PNSC head office in Karachi, during tenure of Babar Ghouri as Federal Minister Shipping, completely destroying all relevant files relating to misappropriation of funds and corruption. Similar fires have burned files in CDA, LDA and recently in Sind Secretariat. There is even a conspiracy theory about Ojri Camp disaster in Rawalpindi. 

Fire has been used as a tool to claim insurance benefits by commercial retail stores and organizations in US and Europe. Major insurance companies have employed forensic experts to detect intentional fires to preempt fraudulent insurance claims, with stringent fire safety regulations requirements. 

In Lahore a popular retail store selling branded and smuggled goods has witnessed three such fire incidences. It was a strange coincidence that few weeks before former flagship store located near Liberty Market was due for closure and planned to be shifted to new location; fire completely destroyed building causing losses of several crores. Numerous such fictitious fire incidences have occurred in Karachi and Islamabad. 

Fire was used as a heinous tool by powerful extortion mafia in Karachi to burn down garment factory located in Baldia, Karachi killing over 280 poor workers, when owner refused to submit to their demand. NAB and premier investigative agencies involved in clamping down on corruption need to hire forensic experts to uncover such crimes which have become a regular feature in Pakistan. 

ALI MALIK TARIQ,  

Lahore, March 1.