The Lahore High Court on Monday acquitted a man convicted earlier on charges of trying to kill his fellow student in a brutal knife attack.
Khadija Siddiqui was attacked by her class fellow Shah Hussain, on May 3, 2016, near Shimla Hill where she, along with her driver, had gone to pick her younger sister from school.
Both sisters were about to get into their car when the helmet-wearing suspect attacked Khadija with a knife and stabbed her 23 times, leaving her critically injured.
A judicial magistrate had on July 29, 2017 handed down seven-year rigorous imprisonment to Hussain after finding him guilty of attempted murder. However, a sessions court in March this year set aside the minor penalties of the convict and commuted the sentenced to five years.
Shah Hussain, the son of a senior lawyer, had challenged the conviction in the sessions court while victim Khadija had also filed an appeal, but for the enhancement of the punishment handed down to the convict.
The sessions judge, however, had dismissed appeal of the victim and partially allowed the appeal of the convict reducing his imprisonment to five years.
Hussain then approached the LHC against the five-year imprisonment approved by the sessions court.
Accepting his appeal, Justice Sardar Ahmed Naeem of the LHC on Monday acquitted Hussain of all charges after hearing arguments from the lawyers of the defence and prosecution. The judgement was announced through a short order.
The accused's father while speaking to DawnNewsTV said Hussain will be released after they receive a copy of the high court's verdict.
The judge who originally tried Hussain in his decision had noted that despite detailed cross-examination of eyewitnesses, nothing came out in favour of the accused. He had further observed that the accused had stabbed the victim mercilessly as severe injuries clearly established that the convict stabbed her without any limit to commit her to death.
Desperately appealing to CJP: Khadija
Khadija, while talking to Dawn.com, said she wasn't expecting the high court's verdict to be what it turned out as the accused's crime against her was proven "beyond a shadow of doubt".
"Justice butchered. Shah hussain acquitted!" she wrote on Twitter after the verdict was announced.
The knife-attack victim said she is "desperately appealing" to Chief Justice of Pakistan Saqib Nisar to take notice of the LHC verdict and hear her case directly.
"The only defence [of the accused] was mudslinging and slut-shaming," Khadija alleged. She said today's judgement is a blow to not just her case but to the security of women in the society at large because she was attacked in broad daylight.
Khadija said she will file an appeal against the verdict in the Supreme Court.