Zulfiqar Ali, a terminally ill Pakistani on death row in Indonesia, has passed away, Justice Project Pakistan (JPP), which had been advocating on his behalf, said in a public statement on Thursday.
“Zulfiqar, 54, died from liver cancer which he had been diagnosed with in Dec 2017. He leaves behind 5 children and his wife, Siti. His mother, based in Lahore, was unable to fly to Jakarta to meet her son for the final time,” the JPP stated.
He passed away hours after being transferred to an Intensive Care Unit in an Indonesian hospital earlier in the day. Soon after he was admitted, the JPP had issued an urgent appeal to bring Ali back to Pakistan, noting that he had “just hours to live”.
Ali’s demise brings to an end the hectic campaign to overturn his wrongful conviction and repatriate him to Pakistan, where he wanted to breathe his last. “It is with the heaviest heart that we announce the passing away of Zulfiqar Ali,” JPP said on Twitter late Thursday afternoon. “He is mourned by his family and lawyers, who fought for his life until the very end.”
The Foreign Office said that the government had been making efforts for his repatriation and now the Embassy of Pakistan in Jakarta is coordinating with Ali’s family to bring his body back to Pakistan.
The JPP had recalled that while visiting Pakistan, Indonesian President Joko Widodo had “promised Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi that he would grant Zulfiqar Ali clemency on humanitarian grounds.”
President Widodo had said during his visit that although Ali’s release was a legal matter, he would “look into the matter on humanitarian grounds”.
“The Government of Pakistan must urge President Widodo to pardon Zulfiqar in light of his terminal illness at the earliest, that has taken a turn for the worse, and the suffering he has already undergone as a result of his wrongful imprisonment,” the JPP had appealed in a press statement earlier today.
“We cannot save his life but we can remove his wrongful conviction so he can die a free man. A promise is a promise,” JPP Executive Director Sarah Belal had said. Ali, behind whom the country rallied in 2016, had been diagnosed with terminal cancer while still in prison.