ISLAMABAD - The PML-N government on Thursday broke silence on the deferment of Saulat Mirza and Shafqat Hussain’s execution, besides addressing queries about the raid at MQM headquarters Nine-Zero as well as Dr Imran Farooq murder case.

Giving a brief policy statement in the lower house of the parliament, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said, “The government is already cooperating in Dr Imran Farooq murder case and shall continue its cooperation in the future.” Dr Imran Farooq, an MQM leader, was killed in the UK and the British authorities are investigating his murder.

Nisar said that during his meeting with British High Commissioner Phillip Barton, the murder case came under discussion, but that the issue should not be politicised.  

The use of uncivilised language (by MQM chief Altaf Hussain) against security agencies, Rangers and the armed forces was also taken up with the British envoy, the minister said. “(But) we have made no official request to the British government,” he clarified.

About Imran Farooq murder case, the minister said that it was responsibility of Pakistan to provide evidence as it was the matter of an innocent Pakistani’s assassination in the UK. “Nobody should find political implication of Dr Imran Farooq case,” he said, as some circles believe that the PML-N government is using the case to exert pressure on the MQM.

Clarifying the reason for the stay in execution of death-row convicts Saulat Mirza and Shafqat Hussain, who were scheduled to be hanged early Thursday morning, Nisar said their executions have been halted for 72 hours owing to different reasons.

About Saulat Mirza, who shared startling revelations about MQM’s supremo Altaf Hussain the other day (Wednesday), the minister said that hanging of Mirza was postponed at the request of the Balochistan government. “His execution was halted because of his health condition,” he said. The minister however skirted the issue of the convict’s allegations from his death cell, but added that Mirza was involved in other heinous murders along with that of former KESC MD Shahid Hamid.

He said the capital punishment of Shafqat Hussain was also postponed for another 72 hours. “So, for different cases, for different reasons, we stayed both the executions for 72 hours. This decision was taken late last night.” Nisar also said that while no documentary evidence has been given to him that confirms Shafqat’s status as a juvenile, the government issued a stay on his execution due to the questions being raised on Pakistan’s justice system.

“We have moved from pillar and post to assess whether the age quoted in jail records and before the courts till 2012 is correct or not,” he said. “Still, there is no clue about the age of Shafqat Hussain, but he with the permission of the prime minister contacted the president for the postponement of Shafqat’s capital punishment,” he said.

“We contacted Nadra in Azad Jammu and Kashmir where he hails from but there is no evidence to prove he was juvenile at the time of conviction,” Nisar said. “This is not my responsibility. It is the responsibility of the accused, the affected party. But I did my best. Till last night, no proof came before me. But because a question is being raised on our justice system, on the advice of the prime minister and interior ministry, the president issued the notification,” Nisar said.

He reiterated that a decision will be taken within 36 hours, and that there is no DNA evidence that can determine Shafqat’s age at the time of the crime. Referring to his speech in the National Assembly two days ago, Nisar upheld he had stated they will halt his execution if evidence was brought forward proving his age. “But there is no evidence and we have stayed it for 72 hours.”

The minister further clarified that the Pakistan government had so far not sent any formal request to the British government about the recent statement of Altaf Hussain regarding the armed forces and Rangers. Nisar said that he met the UK high commissioner and discussed a number of important matters. The matter regarding Altaf Hussain’s statement and Dr Imran Farooq murder case also came under discussion.

Responding to concerns raised by PkMAP chief Mehmood Khan Achakzai about the raid on Nine-Zero, the minister said it was decided in the ‘business advisory committee meeting’ not to discuss the matter regarding MQM. “In respect of the business advisory committee meeting I did not share anything. Otherwise, I was ready to share details on this matter,” he added. Taking part in discussion, Speaker Ayaz Sadiq said that the MQM had asked not to discuss this matter for some days.

Minister of States and Frontier Region Abdul Qadir Baloch, winding up debate on IDPs miseries in the country, said that 0.9 million internally displaced people of North Waziristan has been repatriated and this number would soon rise to 1.8 million. He said the World Food Programme (WFP) would also provide ration to IDPs after their repatriation. “The matter of repatriation would be resolved in six months,” he added. He said that the provincial government is also cooperating to provide temporary shelter and food to the IDPs.

The house witnessed very thin presence of lawmakers from both sides of the aisle from its start till the adjournment order. The proceeding of the house was also witnessed by a group of trainee officers of the Indian Foreign Service.