Most FIRs in our country, including those of heinous crimes fail to convert into convictions for reason of lack of corroborative evidence. It hinges on a ‘tafteeshi’ officer to investigate the offence. He is unaware of modern techniques of investigation. Besides, he is unsupported by any database to develop clues or incriminating witnesses. We fall back on armed forces or paramilitary organizations to detain, investigate, and try criminals. Unless such organizations have a permanent role, their actions, though laudable, will remain palliative.

Solution lies in making use of science and technology in investigation of crimes. We could pluck resources and manpower from existing agencies to create an FBI-like database of finger-prints, handwriting samples, voice signatures, soil samples and suspicious profiles. The FBI interlinks bio data with criminal infractions, tax payments, assets, affiliations, vehicles owned, travel logs and close relations and friends. Just one click pops up whole picture of a person. In ground bombing of World Trade Centre, the FBI came to know about Ramzi Yousaf (Abdul Basit) by scratching Vehicle Identification Number (Chassis Number) of the burnt Ryder Company van. Curious readers may see movies Seven, Columbiana, and Hannibal Lecter (Silence of the Lambs).

The FBI had data bank of 196 million fingerprints (1994). It processed 32,000 law-enforcement requests every day. In the Weinberger kidnapping case, they checked one million handwriting samples to verify identity of ransom-letter writer. In the Corbett case, the FBI's Petrographic Division checked samples of soils from the car fenders and on shoes. They have a system to record online tips in real time. Ramzi was caught on a tip-off by an International Islamic University student pay-rolled to drop information into post -office box. At FBI, everybody attends his daily chores meticulously. Our officers, being without technical skills, attend their offices empty-minded. Duty is the rule there, sycophancy here. There are no labs and databases to keep them busy. The marginal productivity of our investigative officers is either zero or negative (Nurkse).

Unless we change our existing investigative apparatus (without incurring additional cost), incriminating evidence will remain porous.

AMJED JAAVED,

Rawalpindi, October 23.