ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Interior and Narcotics Control Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan here on Tuesday said the Interior Ministry is ready to consider proof in Shafqat Hussain case.
In a statement on the floor of the House on the issue of convict Shafqat Hussain, he said for the past few months, social media is abuzz that a juvenile who was under-age was sentenced capital punishment in 2004 and that his punishment should be repealed.
He said, “the issue has spread so much that I thought it appropriate to speak on this issue briefly, in the House. On my right side, a political party that rules Sindh has issued a formal statement on this issue two days ago. Another political party which is not present here today has also issued a formal statement.
There are many other political leaders who have expressed views on this issue.”
“Everyone has right to express his views. Every political party has the right of expression.
But let us keep politics aside on this important issue.
This issue came before me as Interior Minister last year in December when it was almost decided that on a particular date the accused would be hanged.
Till that time neither any representation was made before me nor was any record presented. But a group of civil society contacted me and as per the set procedure, and since some space was also available because the limited moratorium on death penalty that was lifted at that time and was only applicable to terrorism related cases, so I had the date for his capital punishment postponed.”
“Since then two months have passed. We are constantly in touch with the provincial government. I don’t want to give details because then I would be blamed for political point scoring.
“Since this incident is from Sindh so the capital punishment was awarded by Anti-Terrorism Court in Sindh in 2004. In 2006 the High Court maintained that punishment.
The Supreme Court also upheld the sentence in 2007. And for the first time this case was put up before the Supreme Court that he was underage. The Supreme Court rejected this plea observing that this issue was not raised earlier,” the minister added.
Chaudhry Nisar said, “in Review Petition, this was again rejected. And, I would like to bring to notice that this is not politics and I am bringing forth only the record. In 2012, during the previous Government, the then President rejected his mercy appeal. And as far as I know– I tried my utmost but no proof of birth could be brought before me.”
“I am not sure since it is not confirmed but I guess in the Mercy Appeal too, the concerned did not raise the issue of his being under age or being juvenile nor gave the relevant proof. In July 2012 after going through the entire process his capital punishment was maintained.”
Since there was moratorium on capital punishments and since our Government also continued that moratorium for some time so this issue remained there, he stated.
The minister said, “in December when moratorium was partially lifted and he was sentenced for capital punishment so we exercising our authority, for two months or so, kept the orders pending.”
“And now when the entire moratorium has been lifted only then it has been decided that he would be hanged on 19th March. The date has been fixed according to the law and by the courts. I am constantly in touch with Sindh Government. I have held an inquiry into this matter. They say that inquiry has not been held. For the past two months inquiry was underway. I wish these people had awakened in 2004.”
“I appreciate that this might be a reaction but why was this issue not raised inside and outside of the court in 2004.
Why was this issue not raised when appeal was made in the High Court. Why was this issue not raised when this case went to Supreme Court in 2007. Why was this issue not raised when the mercy appeal was rejected by President Asif Ali Zardari,” he added.