ISLAMABAD: Federal Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan on Monday announced that the government was going to halt the impending execution of Shafqat Hussain.
Shafqat Hussain, a watchman at a residential complex, was condemned to death by an anti-terrorism court in September 2004 for abducting and killing a child.
The convict was said to be 14 years of age when he was convicted, mainly based upon his own confession submitted in court after nine days of detention with the police.
Shafqat’s death warrant had been issued by an Anti-Terrorism Court in Sindh on Saturday and the now 23-year-old was penciled in for execution on January 14.
An anti-terrorism court on Saturday reissued his black warrant as Shafqat's appeal was turned down by the Sindh High Court and his mercy petition was also rejected by President Mamnoon Hussain.
Earlier, his family had been instructed by the authorities at Central Prison Karachi to make preparations for a final meeting with Shafqat.
Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan informed the lower house that the government had arrived at this decision after information regarding issues around Shafqat’s case reached the Ministry of Interior.
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Nisar also announced that an inquiry would be conducted by the ministry on the concerns raised regarding Shafqat’s conviction.
Pending an official notification from the Ministry of Interior on the Federal Minister’s announcement, prison authorities in Karachi continue to count down to January 14 and Shafqat’s execution.
Justice Project Pakistan, a non-governmental organisation working in the legal arena for prisoners facing the harshest punishments, has been pursuing Shafqat's case.
JPP Executive Director and consul of the convict Sarah Belal welcomed the decision and said: “Chaudhry Nisar’s announcement in parliament is definitely good news for the innocent Shafqat Hussain and his family. We are optimistic that the inquiry announced by the Interior Minister will take all relevant parties on board and lead to him eventually going home to his old parents.”