The special public prosecutor for the Baldia factory fire case, Shazia Hanjrah resigned on Monday. The reason behind her decision was the lack of cooperation from police officers investigating the factory fire case. MQM leader, Altaf Hussain, has said that if it can be proven that an MQM worker was behind it, he should be hung by all means. But can it be proven? Will the machinery of the law enforcement agencies and party politics let the truth come onto paper? Hanjrah has stated that the officers did not provide her with copies of witnesses’ statements in the case. She said that during the last hearing of the case, the investigating officers filed a list of witnesses in which the number of witnesses suddenly jumped from 870 to 940. Her decision to resign seems to be the only way that the difficulty of getting to the facts could be made public and it is a smart move on the part of the lawyer. In Pakistan, public pressure and sentiment is a huge driving force behind anything getting done.

While the finger has been pointed at the MQM for the Baldia factory fire, the finger can be broken… along with a few other bones. There are reports that Hanjrah could not continue with the case due to security risks and she has not been provided with security while traveling to and from the premises of the court. With Karachi’s track record of target killings, this is an understandable concern. Hanjrah had written to the government on the matter, but nothing was done.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has urged that action should be taken against culprits behind the Baldia factory fire. But such statements by him are a dime a dozen. The investigation is lethargic and the police unwilling. Addressing the participants of a provincial apex committee meeting held at the Governor House in Karachi, the premier criticised police officials for being slow to file charge sheets.

Meanwhile, court proceedings on the matter are a blur of incompetence as usual. The investigating and prosecuting agencies as well as complainant sides did not bring the JIT report on record of the trial court even on Saturday. The judge was furious at the investigation officer (IO) of the case for failing to file statements of witnesses in the case. IO Jahanzeb informed the court that there were around 950 prosecution witnesses and he had yet to record the statements of many of them. The judge was further exasperated over the delay on the part of the IO to submit the documents and asked him to complete the statements of witnesses and file them in the court on Feb 21. And so the slow process of justice trudges on without results.