As if the injustice of the Sahiwal encounter verdict wasn’t enough, an antiterrorism court in Karachi on Friday awarded 27 years’ imprisonment to a robber over the killing of a female medical student during an exchange of fire with police – in an incident where the killing bullet wasn’t even fired by the robber.

We can see for ourselves the stark difference between the application of justice when the person on trial is the common man and not a member of the state apparatus itself. In the Sahiwal encounter trial, the witnesses refused to testify, the victim’s family was convinced to accept a settlement and the prosecution team failed, or was unwilling, to prosecute.

In contrast, in Karachi, post-mortem examination carried out at the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre revealed that the bullet in question had been fired from a “high-velocity weapon” – the kind carried by the police. Even more damningly, the police team tasked with investigating the student’s death had also come to the conclusion that she was killed by a bullet fired by the law-enforcement personnel. Then how is it possible that the robber was given the sentence – a disproportionate 27 year-long sentence at that.

Not only is the fundamental legal principle of causation – that the one who caused the act must be tried for it – is being completely disregarded in this verdict, the precedent being laid down by the government is a dangerous one.

Instead of deterring police officials from being trigger-happy and negligent, the police has been given free rein. If they kill civilians without any cause, they will be acquitted; if they kill innocent bystanders in a sloppy police chase, the people that are being chased will be implicated for it.

This is travesty of justice, both these incidents. For a government that railed excessively against police brutality in the Model Town Incident to allow such fiascos to happen is unforgivable.