Fair trial concerns plague Pakistan | 2018-10-14 | daily-sun.com

Fair trial concerns plague Pakistan

    14 October, 2018 12:00 AM printer

Islamabad: On a brisk February night in the village of Ranjhay Khan in central Pakistan, Ghulam Qadir received a phone call: “Come and meet us,” the voice said, “and we will resolve all of this,” reports Al Jazeera. 

The 37-year-old television repairman had been trying for months to get justice for his young daughter, Salma.

Months earlier, she had been kidnapped at gunpoint, her family said, and was only returned after Qadir managed to get an army officer, a customer at his small electrical workshop, to intervene on his behalf.

Salma said she had been kidnapped and raped by a man called Akmal.

Qadir had been trying to get the police to register a case but to no avail.

Then, a phone call in the dead of night.

Qadir went to attempt to negotiate a settlement with Akmal and his father, Abdul Qadir, both members of a rival clan.

It was a trap, family members claimed. Qadir was tied up and beaten as Akmal and Abdul Qadir demanded that he stop approaching the authorities to try and have them arrested.

Soon, matters escalated, as Qadir’s family members arrived at the scene. Shots were fired.

When the dust settled, three bodies lay on the floor: Akmal, Abdul Qadir and Salma, Ghulam Qadir’s daughter.

Police arrested Qadir, his brother Ghulam Sarwar, and six others on murder charges. The two brothers were tried and sentenced to death in May 2005, the others were acquitted for lack of evidence.

For 10 years, the Ghulam brothers waited on death row, insisting on their innocence, as their appeals made their way through Pakistan’s labyrinthine justice system.

Finally, on October 6, 2016, the Supreme Court declared that there had been a miscarriage of justice and that there was insufficient evidence to convict the brothers. They were acquitted, and free to go.

But the Ghulam brothers had already been hanged on October 13, 2015, almost exactly a year earlier.

Since Pakistan lifted a moratorium on executions in late 2014, following an attack on a Peshawar school that killed more than 140 schoolchildren, the country has become one of the world’s most prolific executioners.