In a press conference yesterday, Federal Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan claimed that the parents of Umair, the seven-year-old murdered by Shafqat Hussain, were in hiding in Karachi after having been threatened to withdraw the case against Shafqat.
He said “we are cognisant of the fact that where we give justice to Shafqat, we have to provide justice to the child’s parents too”.
Nisar emphasised the need and the desire of the government to provide justice to the aggrieved party in the case, and said Hussain’s hanging had been delayed so that investigations into the matter of his age could be undertaken.
Shafqat Hussain’s execution had been delayed after it had been reported that he was underage at the time of the crime. Nisar said the interior ministry, in order to get at the truth, decided to delay the hanging until the issue was resolved.
While the initial summary moved by the interior ministry had suspended Shafqat Hussain’s hanging for 72 hours, a second summary asking for a month’s delay was moved so that Hussain’s age could be investigated adequately.
Nisar also said that despite many statements made by the civil society and media, until the evening of March 19, the interior ministry had not been provided any report disputing Shafqat Hussain’s age. He said media houses claimed to have sent the ministry documents showing proof of age, but they were not verifiable.
He went on to say that providing proof, which is integral to the nature of the case, is not the responsibility of the government, but that of the accused.
“At this time, what is on record is that when he went to jail, the jail doctor wrote his age as 25 years, and the jail authorities recorded it as being 23 years.”
He also said that these records had not been contested at any point during the course of trial.
“This hasn’t been contested on any level – every time someone goes to jail, their age gets written down. When the case went to trial in court, his age was never brought up. And this is also a wrong statement that he was given a public defender. He had a private lawyer.”
“If you have a certificate, bring it to the attention of the interior ministry, bring it to the attention of the committee formed by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA),” Nisar remarked.