Emotional funeral for Shafqat Hussain

MUZAFFARABAD: Shafqat Hussain, hanged yesterday at Karachi Central Jail for the kidnapping and involuntary murder of a seven-year-old boy in 2004, was buried Wednesday at his hometown in Kashmir amid emotional scenes.Shafqat’s sentencing had drawn controversy, with his supporters claiming he committed the crime when he was a juvenile even though a government sanctioned inquiry by the Federal Investigation Agency had concluded he was 23 years old at the time of his arrest.At the burial, attended by around 400 people, his mother Makhni Begum had to be dragged away from his coffin as it was taken to be interred.Please don’t take him away, he has been far from me for too long, please let me be with him,” she cried.His father, who is paralysed, fell on the coffin, weeping and kissing it until he too had to be dragged off, while Hussain’s sister collapsed, overcome with emotion.“I curse myself, I curse my poverty which cost me the life of my son. I wish I was wealthy enough to buy justice,” Makhni Begum said.Local and international rights campaigners took up Hussain’s case, pushing hard for months for his sentence to be commuted but to no avail.United Nations rights experts said his trial “fell short of international standards”, while Amnesty International accused the government of “callous indifference” to human life.Pakistan has hanged at least 180 convicts since ending a six-year moratorium on executions last December, after Taliban militants massacred more than 150 people – mostly children – at a school in Peshawar.Amnesty International estimates that Pakistan has more than 8,000 prisoners on death row, most of whom have exhausted the appeals process.Supporters argue that the death penalty is the only effective way to deal with the scourge of militancy in the country.But critics say the legal system is unjust, with rampant police torture, poor representation for victims and unfair trials.

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