Since my previous post on Mirza Tahir Hussain I have learned that on ITV’s The Sunday Edition yesterday President Pervez Musharraf told Andrea Catherwood that he was unable to intervene in the Leeds man’s case, saying: “I am not a dictator, I cannot violate a court judgement, whether you like the court or not.”

There are lines of hope, however (in bold print), in the transcript:

ANDREA CATHERWOOD
Your book is trying to change the perceptions about Pakistan and to show it as a modern 21st century country. There is the case of Mirza Tahir Hussain, a British Pakistani who is on death row, did you talk to Tony Blair about that?

MUSHARRAF
He spoke to me about it.

ANDREA CATHERWOOD
And are you able to pardon him?

MUSHARRAF
The law does not permit that. Would Tony Blair be able to do anything against your law?

ANDREA CATHERWOOD
In the past you have been able to pardon people personally.

MUSHARRAF
No. I have never pardoned anyone who has been passed a death sentence. I have never pardoned a single one. Now we have to look into the legality of the issue and that is what we are trying to do. I cannot violate the law, just like no other leader here can violate your law. Whay should anyone expect me to violate Pakistan’s law?

ANDREA CATHERWOOD
We’re going to be talking to his family a little later in the programme. What would you say to them?

MUSHARRAF
Well I would say to them that I sympathise with them certainly and I wouldn’t like any person to die but I have to abide by certain laws and we are looking into what can be done.

ANDREA CATHERWOOD
Many people in the world see him as an innocent man, indeed your high court.

MUSHARRAF
The problem in the west is that they consider every developing country as a lawless wild west. And while laws cannot be violated in their countries that laws can be violated in these developing third rate contries, you can violate any laws and there are no courts — there are Kangaroo courts, lets leave that aside. there are laws in our countries, we abide by those laws and we also don’t want to violate those laws. I cannot violate a court judgement, whether you like the court or not, it’s a court’s judgement and I stick to the law. And we need to find ways of how to handle this situation. I am not a dictator, where I can violate laws, violate the constitution, violate the laws of Pakistan. That cannot be done.

Mirza’s brother, immediately after the interview, which was recorded, said live that the President’s words “beggared belief”, and that Musharraf could pardon his brother if he so chose:

“He is empowered by the Pakistan constitution — it is nothing to do with dictatorship.”

Article 45 of the Constitution of the Islam Republic of Pakistan, 1973, states that:

“The President shall have power to grant pardon, reprieve and respite, and to remit, suspend or commute any sentence passed by any court, tribunal or other authority.”

Hussain was to be hanged at 0500 BST yesterday morning but the sentence was not carried out — reportedly because it is Ramadan, the Muslim holy month.

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