The Lahore High Court’s move to uphold the decision of the sessions court to register a First Information Report (FIR) against Shahbaz Sharif, Rana Sanaullah, Saad Rafique and 18 others over the Model Town incident is not going to make things any easier for the government in the ongoing political crisis. With the regime losing its credibility by the day, an appeal in the Supreme Court is probably the next course of action for the PML-N, although whether this will do them any good is questionable at best considering the JIT report categorically blames the government for the incident. Shahbaz Sharif has finally consented to the registration of an FIR, although a resignation is not on the cards for now. Although leaders of civilised democracies do not blatantly refuse to resign even though overwhelming evidence exists against them, his ‘consent’ to file an FIR is hardly required by law. The police is supposed to investigate without waiting for the government’s say-so.

The FIR itself, used only in Pakistan, India and Bangladesh, is part of the problem in the legal process and an impediment to delivering justice. Not only does it make the entire process of crime investigation more tedious, but it also gives room for the police to refuse to investigate on the basis of lack of evidence, which basically just means that the police has the power to refuse to register FIRs based on whim or political leanings. The PML-N’s obvious reluctance over registering an FIR is bound to have everything to do with the ultimate consequence of being found guilty and subsequently held accountable. The law is very clear on the repercussions of such crimes, and the stated punishments are clearly on the minds of the PML-N leadership. The government’s paranoia however, is not a good enough reason to forgo the search for justice, and due process must be followed. The report blames the government. An FIR must be registered, and arrest warrants issued, after which all those that are to blame should face the music, for good or ill.