INCIDENTS of police encounters in Punjab, that have claimed the lives of 58 proclaimed offenders and criminals since May this year, should be a matter of great concern to all those who stand for the supremacy of the rule of law in society since the reality behind encounters is generally being variously viewed. The government must utilize all energies to ensure a stable security atmosphere and make efforts to arrest criminal elements and try them in a court of law rather than shooting them dead. On Friday, the police in Lahore shot down two proclaimed offenders, maintaining that they were signaled to stop but instead they opened fire, forcing the police to retaliate. The officials later explained that the criminals were wanted in connection with several incidents, including murders and robberies. Other incidents of suspected extrajudicial killings have also evoked concern. No doubt, our criminal justice system is tiresome and dilatory. For prevention of crime both the judiciary, particularly the session courts, and the law enforcement departments, including the intelligence agencies have to act as a single unit, something that is not in vogue in our country. Consequently the whole legal system has become so faulty that it is not very difficult for a criminal with resources to escape punishment even when he is arrested, thus nullifying all the effort by the officials. The trend of killings in encounters perhaps results from this judicial shortcoming. However, this is no way to ensure safety of the citizens. On the contrary, it has made the masses more vulnerable. The police department is seen as having created more problems for society. The Punjab government under Mian Shahbaz Sharif had also come under severe criticism and a court case during its previous tenure. It should take particular care not to give any impression that it is taking recourse to extrajudicial killings when the right course would be to strengthen the law enforcement agencies.