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From the editor

In one of TR Pakistan’s earlier editions in 2017, we had assessed the country’s forensic science landscape in detail, highlighting how technology was transforming policing across the country.

In January 2018, a horrific case of rape emerged in Kasur district which brought the entire country to a standstill. The ensuing investigations into little Zainab’s rape and murder case, which eventually resulted in the arrest of a serial killer, were unprecedented in Pakistan’s history – with technology and forensics playing a key role.

With every tech-assisted move, the noose was tightened around the suspect who was finally arrested. As many as 12 cases of rape and murder of minors were reported from Kasur between 2015 and 2017. With the help of computer forensics and audio video analysis of the available CCTV footages, the investigators marked a 2.5 kilometer radius area as all these cases occurred in the same vicinity.

Having done DNA profiling of all these victims, the teams of Punjab Forensic Science Agency collected 1,187 samples of oral swabs of the male population within this marked area. Separate teams at the agency’s lab examined the samples and 814th of these samples matched the DNA profile of the suspect. The suspect was actually a serial killer who later also confessed to his crimes in a polygraph test the agency conducted.

Read Ahmad Raza’s investigative article as he unfolds the entire story as to how technology proved an enabler and paved the way for the investigators.

Our next article in the current edition is about Pakistan’s looming water crisis. In her article Zofeen T. Ebrahim discusses the issue in detail, covering different aspects like water stress, resource depletion, and contamination. Read to know why, earlier this year, the Punjab government launched a crackdown in all 36 districts and destroyed standing crops on thousands of acres, and what experts say about wastewater treatment and reuse facilities.

In our Q+A section, we have interviewed Dr Sabieh Anwar, an experimental physicist at LUMS, to get his insights on theoretical physics in general and the state of the field in Pakistan in particular.

Dr Anwar, who played a key role in starting an annual science festival in 2017, believes the government must take up the task of transforming science education at the school level, saying no one in the private sector can do this. He also underlines the importance of making maths and science education interesting for children — taught in local language and with innovative methods.

Last but not the least, in her article Aima Khosa takes a holistic view of Pakistan’s space program, oldest in the Subcontinent. After discussing the genesis of the program, she discusses applications of space in remote sensing, glacier monitoring, navigation, communication, and other areas.

Also read about Pakistan’s Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission’s plans to launch five geostationary and six low earth orbit satellites between now and 2040.

Happy reading!
Dr. Umar Saif, Editor in Chief
Umar Saif tweets @umarsaif

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