Fed. interior minister Ch. Nisar defended the Supreme Court’s decision to award death penalty to ‘underage’ convict Shafqat Hussain and said the government will not halt his execution.
“I got his execution delayed and launched an investigation into it but there is nothing more that can be done,” the interior minister said, while addressing the Parliament earlier today.
Responding to widespread criticism for political parties particularly the Pakistan Peoples Party and pressure from international human rights organisations, Nisar said the issue of Hussain being a juvenile when convicted has never been raised before.
“The issue of Shafqat Hussain’s execution should not be politicized,” he said.
Lashing out at PPP’s criticism on Shafqat’s execution, the interior minister said, “In 2012, during the government of Asif Ali Zardari, Shafqat’s mercy plea was rejected.”
“In the documents it is mentioned by the jail doctor that Shafqat is 25-years-old while jail authorities have written his age as 23-years-old,” Nisar added.
Shafqat Hussain, who is to be executed on March 19, was 14 years old when an anti-terrorism court sentenced him to death in 2004, for kidnapping and killing a seven-year-old boy. His lawyers and family have maintained that the boy is innocent and was forced to confess to the crime following a nine-day torture in police detention.
However, Nisar maintained that Shafqat’s mercy pleas were exhausted after investigation and ‘for a reason.’
“He was sentenced under the Anti Terrorism Act and the family of the seven-year-old boy he killed also have fundamental rights,” he added.
Earlier, senior PPP leader Sherry Rehman called for an urgent halt to the looming execution of Shafqat Hussain and asked that he be given a fair re-trial as had been promised by the government.
“The criminal justice system of our country does not allow the death penalty for juveniles, and rightly so,” she said.
The Human Rights Watch urged the government to immediately halt the execution of condemned prisoner Shafqat Hussain.
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