Moeed Pirzada |
Shafqat Hussain Death Penalty Case – I am shocked how so many educated people are commenting on this without first understanding the facts. Human Right NGO’s have planted this lie in public mind that somehow Shafqat Hussain was only 14 when he committed murder on 10th April 2004 or when he was first tried in Aug 2004.
This is simply not true. He was tried first in Anti-Terror Court, ATC-III of Karachi, for abducting and killing a 7-year-old boy, Umair, whom he lured into his room on the pretext of showing him a rabbit. Maybe this was actually a pedophile case turned ugly because he confessed killing the child Umair on 10th but started to demand a ransom of Rs. 5 lakhs from parents on 12th April. Parents were the complainants and he was arrested on their suspicions.
Perhaps Shafqat Hussain should not have been tried under the Anti-Terror Legislation and laws. After all, Mumtaz Qadri’s conviction under ATC has been recently set aside by Islamabad High Court. Shafqat Hussain’s crime was a standard abduction cum ransom and murder case.
ATC-III awarded him death under Sec. 302 of CrPC and Anti-Terror Legislation. Later Sindh High Court commuted Death Sentence under 302 to five-year imprisonment but upheld the Death under Anti-terror laws. He exhausted his appeals to Supreme Court and a Review. After exhausting all due process of law he was set to be executed on 14th Jan 2015 (since his case was falling under Anti-Terror cases) but Interior Minister on the application of Human Right Groups stopped Sindh Govt and asked his ministry to check facts related to age.
Once he was informed that age issue is only being raised now in 2015 by the HR Groups to delay and seek other options he again cleared it. HR Groups have every right of finding every excuse possible to poke holes into the prosecution’s case. This is their job world over. And Barrister Sarah Belal needs appreciation because she also says if Shafqat Hussain were not a minor at the time of crime then state law should take its course ie: Execution. So Barrister Sarah is working within the system instead of challenging it upfront like Pakistan Human Right Commission is doing. However media has to do its job. [Watch my program and discussion with Sarah Belal and Zohra Yousaf along with Dunya TV Court Reporter Rana Liaqat, Mon 16 March]
And as responsible media, we have been tracing this case for the past several weeks. We have not found any evidence to convince anyone that Shafqat was 14 in 2004. Prosecution and Court Records report him 23-24 in 2004 meaning he is around 34 now. May be he was 22, or 21 or 20 in 2004 and maybe he looks young. The idea that ATC in Karachi and Sindh High Court were trying a 14-year-old and no one noticed that, not his lawyers and parents is simply ridiculous.
And as responsible media, we have been tracing this case for the past several weeks. We have not found any evidence to convince anyone that Shafqat was 14 in 2004. Prosecution and Court Records report him 23-24 in 2004 meaning he is around 34 now.
We have also found that recently Human Right lawyers were trying to make birth certificates and school mate affidavits from Azad Kashmir to create a case for creating doubts. This is smart lawyering and can work. However, the fact is that Birth Certificate in this case will be one that was issued by a Hospital at the time of birth and was duly entered in the Birth and Death Records of that District or Tehsil; something which we know has not been done in villages or most cities. Another evidence could have been the old Form-B of NADRA Registration Authority of 1980 or 1990 which was applied by the Head of the Family who had entered the names and dates of birth or ages of all family members.
But that again has to be found in old records and later day creations are not valid in a case like that. With this twisting and manipulation now known to media any bone scanning and x-ray or DNA tests will also come under strict scrutiny. Tests always have error margins which lawyers may have been thinking of exploiting but now it will be difficult because all tests have to corroborate each other and with physical and physiological examinations.
Perhaps Shafqat Hussain should not have been tried under the Anti-Terror Legislation and laws. After all, Mumtaz Qadri’s conviction under ATC has been recently set aside by Islamabad High Court. Shafqat Hussain’s crime was a standard abduction cum ransom and murder case. May be he should have been given life imprisonment and not death penalty. However the enquirers we have made leave us with little doubt that he was indeed the murderer of 7 year old Umair in 2004 and he was not 14 at that time.
Whether there should be a death penalty or not? This is an altogether different philosophical and public policy debate and we will do it at a later stage. But at this stage it is suffice to say that all those who are running this campaign to save Shafqat Hussain, need not fudge the facts to the extent that we loose total belief in ourselves and reality. All this non-sense that Pakistan is hanging children which is being run on social media is terribly flawed and unfortunate.
Moeed Pirzada is prominent TV Anchor & commentator; he studied international relations at Columbia Univ, New York and law at London School of Economics. Twitter: MoeedNj. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Global Village Space’s editorial policy. This piece was first published in Moeed Pirzada’s official page. It has been reproduced with permission.