LAHORE - Punjab Chief Minister Mian Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif on Friday admitted before the media persons that non-arrest of criminals involved in molestation of a five-year-old girl of Mughalpura has put a big question mark on the performance of the investigation wing of the Lahore police.

Shahbaz Sharif, known as a very good administrator, had no words to reply when a reporter pointed out that the police investigators have poorly failed to hunt down the criminals, who brutally raped a minor girl in September and are still at large.

“Obviously, the (investigation) police have failed to apprehend the culprits behind the crime,” the CM admitted in the presence of top police officers. The CM also said that soon he is going to convene a meeting to fix responsibility in this regard. He expressed these views while addressing the foundation stone laying ceremony of the first-ever command and control center of the Punjab police at Quban Lines in Lahore on Friday.

Unfortunately, it was not the only high-profile case in which the investigation wing of the Lahore police failed to trace the criminals.

Actually, the working of the investigation wing has been worsening with every passing day in Lahore and this is evident from the fact that the police have failed to solve almost all the high-profile cases reported in the provincial metropolis in 2013. Many cases, from sectarian killings to bomb blasts, have been declared as untraceable in the record of the Lahore investigation police.

For instance, in a sectarian attack in February, the Lahore General Hospital Ophthalmology Department head Professor Dr Ali Haider and his son were shot dead by two unidentified assailants in the Gulberg area. The police have failed to trace the killers.

In July, explosives concealed in a polythene bag went off inside a restaurant on the busy Food Street of the Old Anarkali area of Lahore city, killing at least five people and injuring 46 others. The police investigations reached dead-end with no arrest and no clue.

October 16: Former Pakistani film star Anjuman’s husband Mubeen Malik was shot dead in Defence area on Wednesday. Yet, the police have failed to arrest the killers involved in the brazen gun attack in the posh DHA locality.

Oct 22: A leader of the defunct Sipah-i-Muhammad, Dr Ghulam Raza, was shot dead at Shalimar on Tuesday. The investigators are still groping in the dark.

Last year, the Lahore police had reported the killings of lawyer Syed Shakir Ali Rizvi in Old Anarkali (Oct 2012), the murder of bank manager Waqar Husain Shah in Garden Town (Feb 2013) and gun attack on lawyer Masood Abid Naqvi in Mozang (Dec 2012) as sectarian violence. Up till now, the investigation police poorly failed to unearth the killers involved in deadly gun attacks.  Apart from high-profile cases, several cases of kidnappings for ransom, dozens of blind murders and hundreds of cases of armed robberies are declared as untraceable by the Lahore investigation police.

By the way, what is the job of DIG (investigations) Zulifqar Hameed and SSP (investigations) Abdul Rab if the Lahore police cannot arrest the rapists, killers, and the kidnappers? Some officers say they believe both the DIG and the SSP got key postings in the Lahore police by using their political connections during the interim setup ahead of general elections in May this year.

Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat provincial chief Maulana Shamsur Rehman Muavia was assassinated in a drive-by shooting by four unidentified motorcyclists near Ring Road when he was on his way home after Friday prayers.

Again, the same ‘seasoned’ officers are directed by the authorities to trace, arrest, and punish the culprits involved in this brutal assault. Despite repeated warnings by the prime minister and the chief minister, the law and order situation is worsening with every passing day. The crimes rate is multiplying in the largest province and street crimes, murders during armed robberies, abductions, and other heinous crimes are on the rise as well.

A couple of months ago, Punjab CM Mian Shahbaz Sharif had himself declared that the arrest of the rapists involved in assault on five-year-old girl was a test for the Lahore Police (investigation).

Under present circumstance, police are unable to track down the criminals involved in the terrible assault on the minor girl, how one can expect that the investigators can cope with the serious challenge of terrorism and sectarianism in the Punjab province.

Will the CM clean the mess in investigation police since the investigators have failed to solve the chief minister’s test case? Before chairing a meeting to review the law and order situation in the province in the days ahead, the CM should hold the officers accountable over poor performance to send a strong message to the disciplined force.