This is not about justice or injustice, humanity or inhumanity, compassion or cruelty in a non-Islamic country Canada where I live where the true principles of Islam are being upheld in spirit; it is about injustice, inhumanity and cruelty in an Islamic country: Pakistan. I’ve chosen the media platform of countercurrents to publish this short article as I believe that its readership will try to broadcast my message with the hope of a change.
I read in the Pakistan daily newspaper The Dawn of October 10, 2017 the story of Sohail Yafat, a condemned prisoner on death row in the central jail of Pakistan’s city of Sahiwal. Sohail was freed, a lucky prisoner who was not hanged. Sohail narrated his story to Rimmel Mohiyudin. Sohail’s story was the last in a three part series about injustice in Pakistan. His story is about the merciless and cruel treatment meted out to the condemned prisoners. Sohail was acquitted without charge.
The first part is the story of Abdul Basit, a man who became paraplegic in jail. He was condemned to be hanged but his execution has been stayed as he is unable to stand up on the platform. According to Pakistan Prison Rules, he cannot be hanged. Yet the Government of Pakistan issued two execution warrants for him after he was paralysed. Abdul Basit was an administrative assistant at a local medical college. He has maintained his innocence for the murder that saw him sentenced to death in 2009. A gun was fired in the middle of an altercation, with the family of a woman he knew.This first part story has been narrated by his wife Musarrat Nausheen.https://www.dawn.com/news/1361924/mr-president-how-can-you-hang-a-man-who-cannot-even-stand
The second part also published in The Dawn of October 9, 2017 relates to the tragic case of an ex-cop Khizar Hayat, a schizophrenic on death row in the central jail in the Pakistani city of Lahore. It is narrated by his mother Iqbal Bano and written by Asim Rafiqui and Michael Braithewaite.The reader can read the case on https://www.dawn.com/news/1362490/schizophrenic-and-on-death-row-the-tragic-case-of-ex-cop-khizar-hayat. In the case of Khizar it was a pir, a religious charlatan, who ruined his entire life as one can read in the story of his mother.
Execution warrants for the mentally ill, physically disabled and juvenile offenders have been issued by the judicial system. More and more cases of wrongful executions have come to light. In October 2016, the Supreme Court acquitted two brothers in Bahawalpur after they spent 11 years on death row, only to find they had already been executed the year before. Another prisoner was found innocent a year after he had been found dead in his cell. Why is the execution of a mentally imbalanced person problematic? A very good explanation has been provided in the case of Imdad Ali, a schizophrenic man. In Imdad Ali’s case, the question was one of ethics regarding the plea for delaying his execution pending his medical treatment.
According to Samparna Tripathy (in The Dawn of October 26, 2016), based out of New Delhi Pakistan has more than 8,000 prisoners on death row – one of the world’s largest populations of prisoners facing execution. Those on death row are often from the most marginalized (prevented from influence) in society, and don’t receive the adequate assistance of counsel or otherwise receive a fair trial. Mental illness afflicts 10-15% of the nation’s population of 200 million and among them are women exploited by roadside charlatans, faith healers and clergy who feed on the sentiments of the disadvantaged population.
What is most tragic in Pakistan is the ” unfair justice” given to politicians and criminals who do not deserve it but have the ill-gotten wealth stolen from the people to bribe the justices; the justice and the political system in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is far from Islamic. Criminals connected to politicians can get away with murder with a light slap on the wrist thanks to the skewed justice system.
I hope that readers who will read this short article and the cases The Dawn has published will raise their voices in some way. Pakistan’s hope for justice, fairness, compassion and humanity lies with the younger generation among the rich and advantaged citizens, if not for anything than to uphold the spirit of Islam whose foundations are built upon the pillars of humanity, compassion and justice. Religion is an institution that is personal between the individual and the Creator but the three pillars are also a part of every religion.
Gulam Asgar Mitha was born in Bombay, India just prior to partition. He has worked as a Process, Project and Technical Safety Engineer in Qatar, Kuwait, Paris, USA and Libya. He’s now currently retired since the past 2 years and continue to live with my family in Calgary, Canada.