Shafqat Hussain’s execution process has been a long and tumultuous one, and it has taken yet another turn; his execution was halted minutes before it was scheduled to take place to once more probe the question of his age at the time of his conviction. This is the fourth time his execution has been stayed; and at this point, given the confusion that still surrounds the facts, the case has become more of a symbol – a touchstone which the human rights organizations and NGO’s point to when they are pointing out the law enforcement and the justice system’s flaws. Despite the large numbers of individuals the law enforcement and the human rights organizations have tussled over since the lifting of the moratorium on the death penalty, Shafqat Hussain’s case has stuck out – in a way similar to Malala’s – because while the incident itself maybe commonplace, the specific facts make for a forceful narrative. A politically inconsequential young individual in a foreign city, a brutal and corrupt police force, and a disinterested legal system and a overworked judiciary; all combine to perfectly exemplify the problems ailing each limb of our overall peace and order maintain machinery.

Whatever the outcome of the inquiry in Shafqat’s age may be, the case must serve as an example which is used to rectify the system. While efforts are being made to reduce police brutality and the justice system’s shortcomings are well known and often commented on, this episode is distinguished not because of these two incidents, it is due to the extreme difficulty both the state and the human rights organizations had to go through to officially determine Shafqat’s age at the time of conviction. Pakistan’s record maintaining system still exists in the last century, especially in legal and police matters. The files are organized in a disjointed and archaic manner, still relying on paper when the rest of the world has started implementing digital methods. The legal system, the police and the government official records need to be converted to a digital format which can be accessed centrally. This does not mean just the basic identity information –which already exist in digital format – but must extend to land ownership records, filling of First Information Reports and public court judgements. Pakistan must step into the modern age; that is the only way to avoid confusion over facts that should be uncontested in most proceedings.