Pakistan to try ’till last moment’ to halt Zulfiqar Ali’s execution: FO

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan is in talks with Jakarta and remains hopeful about the possibility of clemency for Zulfiqar Ali, a Pakistani citizen who is likely to be executed in the next 24 hours on a prison island in Indonesia.

Addressing a weekly briefing on Thursday, Foreign Office (FO) spokesman Nafees Zakaria said Islamabad is in touch with top officials in the Indonesian capital and will keep up efforts to halt Ali’s hanging ’till the last moment’.

Indonesia has rejected appeals from the United Nations (UN) and European Union (EU) to halt the execution of 14 drug convicts including foreigners and Pakistani national Zulfiqar Ali, as speculation mounted they could face the firing squad in a matter of hours.

Syed Zahid Raza, the deputy Pakistani ambassador in Jakarta, said Ali’s family had been informed he would be executed Thursday night. Ali’s family carried out a protest in Lahore on Wednesday against his imminent execution.

Pakistan has been angered about the planned execution of Ali – whom rights groups claim was beaten into confessing – and summoned Indonesia’s ambassador in Islamabad this week to convey their concerns.

Ali was arrested in November 2004 in connection with a 300-gram heroine case in Jakarta. A co-accused in the case, Gurdip Singh, retracted his statement against Zulfiqar, saying the confession had been coerced from him.

Meanwhile, Pakistan intensified its diplomatic efforts earlier this week for saving Ali.

Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz, who was in Laos for an Asean (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) Regional Forum meeting, sought a meeting with his Indonesian counterpart Retno Marsudi on the issue, media reported on Tuesday.

Indonesian Ambassador Iwan Suyudhie Amri was also summoned to the Foreign Office over the expected execution.

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