Sehar Kamran urges raising ailing prisoner’s plight with Indonesian president


ISLAMABAD: Senate’s Standing Committee on Human Rights member Senator Sehar Kamran (TI) raised the issue of Zulfiqar Ali, the Pakistani prisoner sentenced to death for drug charges Indonesia, saying that the accused suffers from a stage 4 terminal liver cancer that has spread to both lobes of liver and his only hope for survival is a liver transplant.

She added that he needs government’s support urgently otherwise he will die without getting a fair chance at trial and justice.

On the suggestion of Senator Sehar, the committee agreed to write a letter to Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi requesting him to appeal for sympathy for the accused during the forthcoming visit of the Indonesian President to Pakistan on January 26.

She also appealed to the civil society to raise Zulfiqar’s case on humanitarian grounds.

The plight of Zulfiqar Ali was highlighted by Justice Project Pakistan (JPP) which had revealed that he is on a death row in Indonesia, and has been diagnosed with stage-4 liver cancer.

It was highlighted that the 53-year-old Pakistani, who was arrested in Indonesia on drug-related charges in 2004, is already suffering from chronic liver cirrhosis and diabetes mellitus. Given his condition, doctors have estimated his life expectancy to be three months.

Ali’s case came to light in 2016, when Indonesia notified the Pakistani embassy in Jakarta that he would be executed in a case related to 300-gram heroin. However, his execution was halted after rights groups and the United Nations appealed to the Indonesian government, followed by diplomatic intervention from Pakistan’s government.

He was arrested at his home without a warrant in Indonesia’s West Java province. For three days, he was “kicked, punched and threatened with death” by the Soekarno-Hatta Airport district police until he was forced to sign a “self-incriminating confession”, the JPP said.

The organisation at the time had said that Ali had to be rushed into an emergency stomach and kidney surgery due to the severity of the physical torture he was subjected to. He remained in the hospital for 17 days, for which the expenses had to be borne by his family, and he still suffered from a number of medical issues as a result.

“Ali, the father of six, was not provided with a lawyer for a month, and no one from the Pakistan embassy was contacted. He was detained for over three months before being brought to the first trial hearing. And even though his confession was coerced, as Ali recalled in detail during the trial, the judge allowed it to be used as evidence.”

Ali had told the prosecutor that the report against him was false and had been obtained through torture. During the proceedings, the prosecutor asked him to admit whatever the police said, saying that otherwise he would be given a higher sentence.

Ali told the court that he had been tortured by the police. Photographs were available to the court which evidenced this.

When he refused to accept the report, a bribe of 400 million Indonesian rupiahs was demanded to reduce the sentence from capital punishment to 10-15 years.

Ali refused to pay the bribe and continued to proclaim his innocence.

After the case was highlighted by rights groups, the then prime minister Nawaz Sharif made a last-ditch effort to make the Indonesian government halt the execution that was successful.