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June 12, 2020

‘PFSA 2nd largest, reliable forensic lab in world’

Lahore

June 12, 2020

LAHORE:Since its inception Punjab Forensic Science Agency (PFSA) has received more than 1.5 million pieces of heinous crimes which come out from 100,000 cases received every year, shared Dr Muhammad Ashraf Tahir, Director General of Punjab Forensic Science Agency, in an interview with The News.

Across the country all high profile cases, including explosions, sexual assaults, murders, homicides, robbery/theft, cybercrimes and fire/arson have been referred to PFSA on the request of local police.

The PFSA has a full service Crime Laboratory and Institute of Forensic Sciences containing a state-of-the-art Mock Crime Scene Training facility. Fourteen disciplines of Forensic Science in the Punjab Forensic Science Agency, including Crime Scene Investigation, Death Scene Investigation, Firearms & Toolmarks, Latent Fingerprints, Polygraph, DNA & Serology, Trace Chemistry, Narcotics, Toxicology, Pathology, Computer Forensics, Audio Visual Analysis, Questioned Documents and Forensic Photography could be seen under one roof.

PFSA has eight satellite crime scene investigation centres in every division of Punjab remaining fully functional round-the-clock for collection of physical evidence from crime scenes.

The DG shared that because of PFSA professionalism we (PFSA) won the confidence of the judiciary, public, security agencies, stakeholders in the criminal justice system, federal agencies, the international forensic community and the general public. Before this, judiciary did not rely on forensic evidence and its reports. After establishing PFSA the judiciary relied on physical evidence in the criminal justice system.

Ashraf Tahir said that PFSA is the second largest and reliable laboratory in the world collecting forensic evidence. We save the portion of original evidence for 25 years. We challenge anyone anytime to go and get re-tested from the US forensic lab or anywhere, but our test results will remain the same. We earned fame on international level equally and received physical evidence in criminal cases from international, including six cases from Scotland Yard only, United States of America, United Kingdom, Germany, Norway, and Egypt. The Punjab Forensic Science Agency solved 800 cases of terrorism across Pakistan. The DNA Database is our great success as it helps police and judiciary to solve crimes of heinous nature. PFSA has stored 30,000 DNA databases currently. He shared that the USA had a DNA database of 20 million criminals. They store DNA databases once crime is committed either it is heinous or ordinary. He said it was the nature of criminals to repeat their crimes after every three year and DNA helped law enforcement agencies to find the criminals. There are laws of DNA in the USA, unfortunately, no law in Pakistan was drafted on a DNA database which was needed for hours, he said.

Taking pride he said PFSA was corruption- free and free of political pressure. No one can contact us to change the report. He said “Firearms Identification” is one of the prominent disciplines of forensic science which has its primary concern to determine if a bullet, cartridge case or other ammunition component was fired via a particular firearm. We have solved 400 such cases in two years. We have solved that one weapon was used in 35 police stations. We are going to purchase AFIS. He talked about a backlog of reports of the cases. He said that surveys of 180 labs were conducted, 34 percent backlog was observed in USA, 30 percent in UK and only 1.8 percent is backlog of PFSA, shared Ashraf Tahir.

He said that Zainab rape-murder case was solved by PFSA, Chunian case in which four children were sexually abused and killed, identification of burnt bodies in oil tanker explosion case of Ahmedpur Sharqia, were solved by PFSA through DNA evidences, audio-video analysis, latent finger prints, chemical examination matters and other forensic advanced techniques. From Green Town Lahore, Muazen Mosque was cleared and the real killer of six-year-old was arrested after DNA and polygraphist tests. The Muazen of the mosque had not committed crime but police had declared him that the Muazen had molested the child and killed him. After DNA and Polygraph tests it was revealed that the real killer was a barber.

Talking to the scribe, the DG said that PFSA always serves the nation, adding “We helped to identify the bodies in airplane crash in Karachi.” He said that conducting tests of corona was not the PFSA mandate despite the fact that we came forward during the pandemic.

ACS Punjab Home Department Momin Agha asked the Punjab government to increase the corona testing facility in Punjab. PFSA DG said, “with the cooperation of British High Commission and European Union we established a corona testing facility and so far we have completed 9,000 tests of corona patients.” PFSA has the capacity to conduct 2,000 tests in 24 hours but a shortage of testing kits means no further test is being conducted while the machinery and labs are there.