The Pakistani criminal justice system is a tale of power abuse, manipulations, and protection of those who have the means. The reason why the masses are so agitated is because the system fails to punish those guilty of grave crimes, while the common man suffers extreme punishment; often in the guise of a scapegoat.

One such case is the Central Prison of Karachi; where recently, two high profile militants of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) broke out. LeJ is a banned organisation in Pakistan, known to conduct terrorist activities in the region. If their members cannot be kept in check, then expecting the military to drill out extremists from this land is an unfair expectation. All institutions have to play an equal part, and this is clearly not an example of that.

An inquiry was launched by the Counter Terrorism Department of police to look into the matter. The findings are neither unusual nor unexpected. High profile prisoners, such as politicians and members of extremist organisations, virtually control the environment of a prison. The senior jail authorities are mostly content with the hierarchy that these people create, and the jail staff has to comply; often out of the threat of being targeted by the accomplices of these prisoners.

The trend is not new and has been in place for at least 20 to 25 years. And it is a true reflection of how people in the society exist at large; those who have the means enjoy the privileges, and those who do not suffer the wrath of those in power. If these criminals are timely persecuted and given their due punishments, no one would dare control the administration of an institute that is supposed to punish people for their unlawful acts.

Our prisons cannot become the hubs of the exploiters. The reason why Sheikh Mumtaz and Muhammad Ahmed were able to break out of prison was because they were in charge of their prison wings; they could freely move in any ward they wanted and could go to the court complex without being summoned.

Privileges should not come easy to those who disrespect the sanctity of the law and spread fear. The criminal justice system needs reforms, so that no officer is afraid to perform his duty or gets killed in the process.