In yet another ghastly incident of mob violence, a large group caught two would-be robbers and burnt one after catching him in Karachi on Sunday. The frequency with which incidents such as this take place tells us that this problem cannot simply be ignored. With the recent ruling that let off over 110 suspects in the Badami Bagh (Joeseph Colony) tragedy, where entire homes were put to the torch – and no one has been brought to justice – there are too many incidents of mob violence. It is high time that the government did something meaningful – in the way of legislation or ensuring that open violence on the street is illegal.

The mob, like all others that have preceded it, was not convinced in the ability for the state to give it justice, or perhaps it was convinced in the state’s inability to stop them from taking matters into their own hands and implement vigilante justice. Either way, confidence in the state’s ability is low, and this can be attributed to its failure to protect the people. The lack of even a single policeman in the area is disconcerting, and so is the cruelty of these people to set a human being on fire.

Legally speaking, it is not easy identifying who did what when a large group is involved, but in a country where certain areas like FATA still have arcane laws such as collective punishment for entire tribes in place, how is it possible that no one ever stands convicted? Lack of evidence due to inefficient police work, poor prosecution and even complicity with the suspects are only some of the reasons for the propagation of this vicious cycle. Unless a mob is rightfully tried and sentenced for its crime, rather than focusing on who did what extent of damage, large groups will continue to take the law into their own hands and choose to do as they see fit, completely nullifying the state’s writ.