PAKISTAN: A man is going to be executed by hanging on October 8 – no remedy from the government

The father of two young girls will be hanged in the early hours of October 8, 2008 at Adiala jail after being convicted on a charge of murder on April 14, 1998. Mr. Zulfiqar Ali, the condemned prisoner, has two daughters namely, Ms, Noor Fatima, age 11 years and Fiza Ali, age 10 years, after his execution the girls will be orphaned and it is feared that they will have no one to look after them. Mr. Zulfiqar’s wife died of cancer in 2006.

Adiala Jail, Rawalpindi, Punjab, is notorious as being the facility where Mr. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, was hanged in April 1979 by the then military dictator, General Zia ul Haq, on charges of murder. As a prime minister, Mr. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto made the decision to commute death sentences to life imprisonment. The wife of the existing president, Mr. Asif Zardari and former Prime Minister, Ms. Benazir Bhutto pledged several times to abolish the death sentence. President Zardari, who is also co- chairman of the Pakistan People’s Party, announced plans to commute death sentences during his speech after taking oath. However, during his short spell as president five persons have been already been executed. The federal cabinet also decided in its meeting on July 2, to commute the death sentence in to life imprisonment. However, due to action by Muslim fundamentalists, the matter has not been finalised.

Mr. Zulfiqar Ali’s petition for clemency was rejected by President Zardari in the third week of September and a red warrant to carry out the execution was issued on September 29. The ruling Pakistan People’s Party and its government appear to be unpredictable in so many issues, particularly, about the commutation of death sentences. The government announced four times since its coming to power that it will commute the death sentence to life imprisonment but it appears that this has been solely for the consumption of popular slogans.

The Asian Human Rights Commission is making a final appeal to the government of Pakistan to stop the execution of Mr. Zulfiqar Ali even at this late hour. We further urge the government to come out openly about the issue of the abolition or commutation of the death sentence. The government has already failed to carry out many of their election promises, one of which was to reinstate the ousted chief Justice, Mr. Iftekhar Choudry. On this vital issue of commutation of the death penalty it must not falter but stand up to its promises. There are over 7,000 people on death row, including women and children all of whom are looking to this government for saving their lives.

The AHRC calls upon President Zardari to take a stand on this issue and immediately commute Mr. Zulfiqar Ali death sentence to life imprisonment.

Document Type : Statement
Document ID : AHRC-STM-259-2008
Countries : Pakistan,