When the DNA testing lab was opened at Karachi University a few years ago, it generated hopes that law enforcers from Sindh, especially investigation agencies, won’t have to take samples for tests to such facilities in Punjab. Thus much time would be saved in carrying out investigation of cases of murder and rape and other crimes. The lab is under the administrative control of the Sindh government. As long as the Karachi lab remained functional, it gave satisfactory results. However, it has temporarily been closed due to lack of funds after the government’s unpaid arrears accumulated to Rs100 million. The lab in charge says the facility cannot function without cash. Whenever funds will be made available, it will resume working. The facility has been closed on the orders of the International Centre for Chemical and Biological Sciences director. The lab has stopped receiving samples for tests.
Now that this lab has stopped functioning, samples are being sent to DNA testing facilities in Punjab. It takes much time in sending samples to and receiving test reports from Punjab labs. This delays investigations. For DNA tests to be effective in probes, time is of crucial importance. Delay in collecting samples, sending and receiving DNA test reports badly affects the use of DNA tests in investigations. Delays might give misleading results, and sometimes they negate the use of forensic tests in crime investigations. DNA tests also help in the identification of accident victims, whose bodies and faces cannot be recognised due to being charred or other reasons. DNAs of the dead persons are matched with those of their close blood relatives. When DNAs of the dead and alive match with each other, it gives an accurate idea of the identity of dead persons.
The DNA testing lab in Karachi serves multiple purposes. The local facility was helpful in the investigation of crimes. Considering the utility of the lab, the Sindh government should immediately release the needed funds.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 27th, 2021.