PESHAWAR -- A new DNA testing facility in Peshawar has begun receiving kits necessary to conduct DNA profiling for high-profile crimes and terrorist incidents that occur throughout Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP).
Plans for a DNA laboratory in KP began in 2013. On February 6, KP Health Secretary Abid Majeed inaugurated the facility at the Khyber Medical College (KMC) after numerous delays, including the lack of DNA profiling kits.
KP Police previously had to send DNA specimens and evidence for analysis to the Punjab Forensic Science Agency in Lahore.
"We have bought the latest machinery for the DNA lab so it can conduct DNA profiling and other tests," Majeed told Pakistan Forward.
All of the equipment was already in place, save for the profiling kits, which arrived a few days before the inauguration, he added.
"We have placed orders for future kits," said Majeed, adding that each kit can be used for 200 tests.
The government will provide vehicles for staff to visit crime scenes, he said during the inauguration.
In addition to setting up the DNA laboratory, the KP government last year upgraded the KP Police's Forensic Sciences Laboratory (FSL), said Prof. Noorul Iman, dean of the KMC, during the event.
"The DNA laboratory, however, will work separately at the KMC and will not be under the KP Police's FSL," Qaisar Khan, a journalist based in Peshawar, told Pakistan Forward.
The provincial government and police faced a number of problems because the lab was yet not operational during the probe of the murder of four-year-old Asma in January, he said.
"The KP Police had to send the samples to the Punjab Forensic Science Agency in Lahore, which can conduct all kinds of tests within one building," said Khan.
Now that KP Police no longer need send DNA samples to Punjab Province, they will be able to solve cases more quickly by sending the samples to the local KMC lab, Senior Superintendent of Police Rabnawaz Khan, director of the KP FSL, told Pakistan Forward.
"This will improve the quality of investigation since the local investigators will be available while doing the DNA testing," said Khan.
Work continues on cases
In 2017, the KP FSL solved 55,000 cases involving a variety of crimes, Khan added.
"There [are zero pending cases] with the FSL now after all old and fresh cases have been [solved] by the experts in the seven different sections of the laboratory," Khan said.
"We are developing a website to which all the courts will have access to check the forensic results of their cases online," KP Inspector General of Police Salahuddin Khan Mehsud said last September.
With the upgrade of the FSL and the new ability to profile DNA locally, police will expedite investigations of criminal and terrorism cases, said Mehsud.