A HUMAN rights committee in Pakistan’s upper house of Parliament has called on the government to spare a mentally disabled man from the death sentence which is due next week.
Lawmaker Farhatullah Babar says the committee will seek a pardon from President Mamnoon Hussain for 50-year-old Imdad Ali, a convict who was diagnosed with schizophrenia in 2008.
Thursday’s development comes days after Pakistan’s highest court rejected Ali’s final appeal, claiming his disease does not qualify as a mental disorder.
Ali has been on death row since he was convicted in 2001 of murdering a religious scholar.
Babar says the committee was taking action because two Pakistani brothers were “wrongfully hanged” last year while their appeals were still pending.
Under Pakistan’s Constitution, the president has the authority to pardon any convicted person but Mamnoon had rejected an earlier mercy petition in May. The legal team filed a new petition last month.
Since reintroducing the death penalty in 2014, Pakistan has executed 425 people. The reintroduction of the death penalty was prompted by the mass killing of more than 150 schoolchildren at a Penshawar school by Taliban gunmen.
Yesterday, Imdad’s lawyer Sara Bilal, from the Justice Project Pakistan, said authorities have set Nov 2 as the date of execution unless Pakistan’s president issues a pardon for him.
“Imdad’s death will serve no retributive purpose, as he remains completely unaware of this reality,” Sara said.
Psychiatrist Tahrir Feroze said the deathrow inmate, who he had treated in the last eight years, was a genuine schizophrenic.
Imdad was due to be sent to the gallows after Pakistan’s High Court rejected his final appeal last week.
Last week’s decision by the three-judge bench of Pakistan’s supreme said the condition was “not a permanent mental disorder” and was a recoverable disease.
Imdad’s wife said she would seek forgiveness from the family of the murder victim in a last ditch attempt at allowing her husband to be spared execution.
Under Islamic law, the victim’s family’s forgiveness may reverse the decision to execute a convicted murderer.
Additional reporting by the Associated Press