"The poor state of investigation is a matter of serious concern. Those accused of crimes are not convicted by the courts due to poor investigation and lack of evidence," the premier said while addressing a passing-out ceremony for young officers at the National Police Academy.
"We cannot allow criminals and terrorists to get away, due to lack or failure to gather evidence admissible in a court of law," he said. Ashraf said the country's law enforcement agencies will have to "increase intelligence-sharing and coordination among themselves to combat terrorism".
Ashraf warned that terrorism "threatens the very fabric of our society, life and security of our people" and its nexus with crime makes the task of the police force even more challenging. "This calls for a proactive role by the police to rise to the occasion and nip this evil in the bud," he said.
The premier asked law enforcement personnel to adopt a holistic approach to combat terrorism. Police should maintain a close relationship with the local community as such interaction will provide information about anti-national and anti-social elements and deny criminals refuge, he said.
"This is only possible if they are not feared but respected," Ashraf said.He also called for an end to the "dreaded thana culture", which has cast a "dark shadow" on police performance.Thousands of people have died in terror attacks across the
country since the Pakistan Peoples Party-led government came to power in 2008.
None of the terrorists accused of masterminding major terror incidents, including the suicide bombing that killed former premier Benazir Bhutto in December 2007, have been arrested so far.
Several persons detained in connection with terrorist attacks have been set free after prosecutors failed to produce evidence against them in court.The trial of the seven men, including Lashkar-e-Taiba commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, charged with involvement in the 2008 Mumbai attacks has progressed at a snail's pace due to technical and other delays.
During his address, the premier noted that both houses of Parliament had recently passed The Fair Trial Bill to "plug legal loopholes invoked by criminals".This, he said, would strengthen law enforcement agencies allowing them to present evidence that was previously inadmissible in courts.
The Fair Trial Bill 2012, was passed by the Senate or upper house of parliament on Friday. It was passed by the National Assembly or lower house on December 20.
Once the President gives his assent, the law will empower intelligence and security agencies to tap phone calls, monitor emails and gather data from SMSs and other means of communication as part of the war on terrorism.
The electronic data gathered by security agencies will be accepted in court in cases registered under five security-related laws.However, the law has been criticised by rights groups,which say it poses a threat to privacy and civil liberties.
Ashraf sought to address these concerns, saying: "Let me state very clearly, that these powers are meant to curb terrorism and violence."In no way is it a license to suppress human rights or dent human dignity. A democracy cannot allow a police state".
At the same time, he said old concepts of policing must give way to an innovative approach in view of the varied nature of challenges."Obsolete methods of investigation and evidence collection employed by the police need to be shunned. There is a need for increased reliance on scientific methods of investigation," he added.
In this connection, authorities will have to strengthen forensic capabilities and modernise investigative techniques and tools of evidence collection.
The National Police Academy and training institutions need to take up training in investigation as a specialised subject.The government is prepared to allocate additional resources and fund any plan, including hiring of foreign trainers and training of police officials abroad, Ashraf said.