“They would hit me with sticks on the bottom of my feet. They would tie my hands and feet together and run a thick wooden stick between them under my belly and suspend me like that and hit me on my feet. They even beat me with a chittar….I have scars on my wrists from the handcuffs and arm from the cigarette burns. They even electrocuted me. They could make you say a deer was an elephant”.

–Shafqat Hussain, as he described how the police tortured him into confessing for a crime he had not committed, 2013.

Shafqat’s story is like many others a story of the impunity enjoyed by the police in Pakistan for committing heinous acts of torture. Shafqat was executed on 8 August 2015, whereas the police officers who tortured him faced no repercussion for their conduct.

It is no secret that police routinely torture suspects and witnesses to extract evidence. According to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, during September 2013 and March 2015 almost 1062 were killed in police. Confessions and witness statements obtained under torture form the core of investigation in Pakistan. The ‘Thana culture’ is essentially a euphemism for torturing suspects into submission. Police lacks knowledge and resources to undertake modern investigation techniques, including forensic evidence collection. It only takes a cursory scanning of the dynamics of public institutions in Pakistan to conclude that this lack of implementation is attributable to a corresponding lack of political will. Politicization of the police and arbitrary vested interests effectively dictate the course of action assumed by officers who face the unfair dilemma to either follow their professional instincts or face extra-legal pressure.