In yet another tragic incident, two members of the country’s Christian community are battling for their lives in a private clinic after undergoing torture at the hands of the police at Lahore’s Shalimar police station.

Thirty-year-old Faraz Masih and forty-year-old Doya Masih were picked up by the investigation wing of the Shalimar police in connection with a mugging case last week. It was only when gruesome photos by one of the relatives was shared with crime reporters, the issue came into the notice of senior police officers, and four police investigators were immediately suspended from service. It remains to be seen whether any further action will be taken. Based on previous experiences, it would be better to keep one’s expectations in check. Reports reveal the intensity of the crime where the victims were not only tortured but also humiliated in perverse ways, which is a grim reminder of the depraved mindset that is allowed to permeate through many thanas in the country. Corruption is only half the problem; the lack of education, coupled with the tacit encouragement to use violence as a scare tactic often brings out the worst in many working for the police.

With more than 100 private torture cells in the jurisdiction of 77 police stations in Lahore, this instance is only one of the many. In fact, most cases go completely unreported. Zainab Malik, heading the Torture Project at Justice Project Pakistan, claims that, ‘the lack of an independent investigation mechanism provides police impunity to torture without legal consequences.’

It is only in cases where there is media attention that they are any repercussions, and even then, police officers are only temporarily suspended or transferred till public attention is diverted to the next hot issue. The torture prevention bill has been pending in the parliament since 2013 – with no resolve pushing for its enactment. 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.

An eradication of torture requires a deeper understanding into the larger system of impunity that has been perpetuating it since before the inception of Pakistan. The government needs to publicly demonstrate unequivocal resolve to hold perpetrators accountable.