Forensic Psychiatry in Pakistan: An Update

Pakistan is a lower-middle income country in South Asia where forensic psychiatry is often not recognized as a distinct subspecialty of psychiatry. Although evolution toward this direction has begun, more development in this field is needed. Before Pakistan’s Mental Health Ordinance of 2001, much of the mental health legislation and institutional infrastructure pertaining to the mentally ill offender can be traced back to the Indian Lunacy Act of 1912. The past two decades have witnessed important legal developments in the role of psychiatry in Pakistan’s criminal justice system. This has been seen through the devolution of health-care provision and by an extension of psychiatric service provision from the federation (federal government) to the four provinces. Despite the sparse resources allocated to psychiatry, competent yet scarce psychiatry residents are graduating from Pakistan’s accredited residency programs with an interest in forensic psychiatry. The objective of this article is to reflect on the past, while examining the current state of existing forensic mental health in Pakistan. This article will also address the future trajectory of forensic psychiatry in Pakistan and supports the establishment of forensic psychiatry as a subspecialty in Pakistan.

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