KARACHI: Interior minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan on Tuesday said the Sindh government had turned down his proposal to conduct a DNA test of condemned prisoner Shafqat Hussain to determine his age.
The convict is set to be hanged on Thursday after the Sindh High Court threw out a petition seeking suspension of his fresh execution order.
The interior minister’s statement came amid protest by civil society and human rights organisations demanding suspension of Shafqat’s execution on the grounds that he was underage and Chaudhary Nisar himself had promised to get a DNA test conducted to resolve the issue.
However, the disclosure by the interior minister on the floor of the National Assembly suggested it was the Sindh government that was not willing and had come up with an argument to prove its stance.
“I had given a proposal to the Sindh government for his [Shafqat Hussain] DNA test,” the federal minister told the National Assembly. “Only this [Tuesday] morning, I received a written communication. Through a formal correspondence, the Sindh government has communicated that a DNA test is not possible as it will be contrary to the entire proceedings held so far in the courts and their verdicts.”
He referred to the demand made over the social media by human rights organisations, but said Shafqat’s execution was set following all legal procedure and every effort to prove him underage produced no result.
“When he was sent to jail in Karachi, as per the available record, the jail doctor had determined his age as 25 years and the jail authorities as 23 years. All these things are on record,” he said. “We are ready for a resolution of the issue, but they should suggest us legal ways for that and provide the requisite proof. If the Pakistan Peoples Party thinks that there should be a stay on this, so naturally the first step is to present any certificate or proof of his age that could prove that the age shown at that time was not correct.”
In Karachi, the Sindh High Court threw out a petition seeking suspension of Shafqat’s execution order. He was condemned to death by an antiterrorism court in 2004 for kidnapping and killing a seven-year-old boy in New Town. The convict’s brother, Gul Zaman, petitioned the high court submitting that his brother could not be hanged as he was a juvenile when he was convicted.
He said the interior ministry had halted the execution of the condemned prisoner when civil society raised a hue and cry against the hanging of his brother on the ground that he was a juvenile. The petitioner quoted the interior minister as saying during a press briefing that a DNA test of the convict would be carried out to determine his age, and added that after lapse of two months no test had been conducted. The convict’s brother said that instead of determining his age, an ATC issued black warrants against Shafqat.
A division bench dismissed the petition and ruled that the convict had availed all remedies provided under the law and the matter had attained finality.
Published in Dawn, March 18th, 2015