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Jubilation in Muhammad Pura over Zulfiqar’s reprieve

Jubilation in Muhammad Pura over Zulfiqar’s reprieve

LAHORE: Moving scenes of jubilation were in evidence on Friday in Lahore’s Muhammad Pura slum following the last-minute reprieve to a death-row Pakistani man in Indonesia in an alleged drug trafficking case, but sufferings of the relatives of the convict have not yet come to an end.

The wailing sisters and brother of Zulfiqar Ali are telling everyone visiting them that he has served more than a full sentence for the crime he has not committed. They say they are seeking deportation of their brother who is suffering from multiple illnesses.

Relatives, acquaintances and neighbours continued to visit Zulfiqar’s house, congratulating the family on their success of getting the execution stayed and sympathising with them by offering prayers for his early return home.

While the family made seating arrangements for the visitors, many neighbours also put chairs on the street. Media people continued to visit the house throughout the day, sharing jubilation and trying to get the latest information about the case.

The helpless family had been silently living with pain for over a decade and was stirred up only when the news came as a bolt from the blue that Zulfiqar would be executed within three weeks and soon afterwards re-notified that he would be no more after 72 hours.

“Since then, we have not sat silent and launched a protest with the help of a non-governmental NGO, Justice Project Pakistan,” Zulfiqar’s sister told Dawn on Friday.

Zulfiqar was arrested in Indonesia in an alleged drug trafficking case in 2004, but was never allowed legal assistance, according to his sister in Lahore. Within a few free months in Indonesia, he had married an Indonesian woman.

“The news of the scheduled execution came as a bombshell along with a visa to mother for visit and the last meeting with her son in an Indonesian jail,” Misbah said, adding that the family and neighbours joined hands to protest against the execution on a plea that Zulfiqar was not guilty of the crime as per revelation in an investigative report by Indonesia’s law and human rights ministry.

“We protested in and outside our locality, but it did not come up to the public eye and then we decided to go to the main protest venue in Lahore — The Mall in front of the Punjab Assembly,” Misbah said, adding that several people from all walks of life joined the protest.

She praised the role of electronic and print media in highlighting and sensitising the world about the matter.

“The media hype compelled the Pakistani authorities to respond to the cause and Indonesian authorities to give reprieve to Zulfiqar and nine other foreigners — for an uncertain time period. Today, I have heard my mother’s (Shamshad Begum) voice on the phone from Indonesia, saying ‘I am alive again’,” said Misbah in a matter-of-fact voice.

“We will not sit silent and continue the protest on The Mall on a daily basis to pressure the Indonesian and Pakistani governments for early deportation of Zulfiqar. My mother also said that another convict, Gurdeep Singh, who had blamed Zulfiqar for drug trafficking, had fallen at her feet and sought apology for implicating her son in a false case,” Misbah said.

Zulfiqar has two sons, including a mentally challenged boy, from his divorced wife in Lahore, as well as two daughters and a son from his Indonesian wife Sitti Rohani, she added.

Courtesy : Dawn News



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