Like the predecessor’s governments, the Pakistan Tehreek Insaf (PTI) has also repeatedly promised the nation to “reform the criminal justice system and provide speedy access to justice” for the common people. This slogan was not only pressed by the Prime Minister Mr Imran Khan in his first speech to the nation, but was part of their Election manifesto and the 100 days plan. In the very first speech, the Prime Minister erroneously claimed that the PTI led government, with the help of the Chief Justice of the Peshawar High Court, had successfully reformed the civil adjudication in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, where civil cases are decided within one year. The PM enthusiastically claimed to extend the ‘alleged reforms’ to the whole country. Factually, on the ground, nothing as such has happened in KP. I have been witnessing civil cases, where even the recording of testimony hasn’t yet begun after four or five years of the filing of the case. Off-course it was not an easy task and rationally, it wouldn’t be a trouble-free ordeal for the PTI government to reform the country’s justice system and to make justice accessible to the masses. As, on the ground, the challenges are scary, where, beside will-power, there would be a need for additional research and resources. For instance, the statistics shared by the Law and Justice Commission of Pakistan that said that, till February 2018, there were more than 1.85 million cases pending in Pakistani courts, including around forty thousand in the Supreme Court alone. The disposal of cases by the country courts has also been unfortunately very disappointing; in the recent few years, we have witnessed people being acquitted by the country’s superior courts after they had already spent ‘years’ in prisons. Further, the most worrisome issue is the low conviction rate of the country’s criminal courts that need timely up-gradation. Similarly, Civil Courts are heavily overburdened, offering expensive and delayed justice for the common litigants. In some cases, after deep frustration, the parties in civil litigation take the law into their hands, because many cases are decided after they have passed on to third generations. Hence, civil litigations are often followed by criminal cases. The Annual 2017 report of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan stated that the country’s prisons are highly overcrowded. Sadly, there were around 83,000 prisoners in jails that had a maximum capacity of only 55,828. Even more worrying is that 63 percent of prisoners in Pakistani jails are people currently under trial The Annual 2017 report of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan stated that the country’s prisons are highly overcrowded. Sadly, there were around 83000 prisoners in jails that had a maximum capacity of only 55,828. Even more worrying is that 63 percent (52920) prisoners in Pakistani jails are people currently under trial. Above all, many prisons lacked clean drinking water and requisite facilities for health and hygiene, and there even reports of incidents of torture and violence. Besides the huge funding and budgets, the prosecution is unable to get the public’s trust and people are still forced to engage private counsels for their criminal cases. The judiciary is the custodian of the people’s rights and as such should be reformed in order to improve their performance. Justice can only be done if the judiciary holds the public’s trust, which can only be achieved when it ensures speedy, cheap and affordable justice for all. Just three years ago, citing the extraordinary circumstances, the Federal government allowed the military courts to carry out trials for civilians suspected of ‘terrorism’, with the argument that the ordinary courts were ‘incapable’ to conduct these trials, and with the promise to reform the country’s fragile criminal justice system. Today is the fourth and last year of the military courts, but the government has not planned and implemented the promised reforms, nor has it initiated any cogent steps to make the courts ‘capable and trustworthy’ for the common people. Today, our courts are in the same position as they were in December 2016, with no reforms brought in the administration of justice. Regrettably, the common people can’t afford ‘expensive lawyers’ to search for justice, while the legal experts consider the administration of justice through the Pakistani courts to be expensive, unaffordable and time-consuming, where there is always the probability of the ‘miscarriage of justice’. Still, Pakistan stands among the top five in the world, in term of executing people. Being the state’s constitutional duty to ensure cheap and accessible justice to every citizen, the primitive justice system with decade-long trials didn’t attract the attention of the previous governments. There is a lot of work to do to equip them with the modern techniques of investigation and modern forensics. False FIRs, non-registration of FIRs, primitive means of investigation, rare use and availability of technologies and forensics in investigations are some of the key concerns which the government has to fix on priority if they are serious in upgrading the justice system in the country. Issues like forged and delayed FIRs, deficiency of modern techniques and forensic for investigation, over-crowded prisons, decade-long pre-trial detention, three generation civil litigations, lawyers with face value, can never serve strength to the administration of justice. This is the time for the incumbent government to bring tangible reforms in the country’s justice system and fulfil its promises of Naya Pakistan. The writer is a Peshawar-based lawyer. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @s_irshadahmad Published in Daily Times, August 29th 2018.