Under the Justice Project Pakistan, Olompolo Media and Highlight Arts orchestrate a no-break play to show the agony of a prisoner on the death penalty.

It is impossible to fathom what an individual goes through 24 hours prior to their death. Their inability to sleep is what portrays the true understanding of their fears and feelings. Such is a character about to be played by Sarmad Khoosat. Khoosat intends to portray his skills as a method actor who will play the role of the prisoner for a continuous 24 hours on October 10th as an immortalization of the global day Against Death Penalty.

The live stream will begin with Prisoner Z sitting in solitary confinement in his cell. He will be shown either staring in silence or exchanging scarce words with his guards. Mostly, waiting for the fateful strike of the clock.

The prisoner in question is Zulfiqar Ali who spent 17 years on death row. Ali lost his wife to cancer without getting a chance to bid adieu to her. His daughters Noor and Fiza were both deprived of their parents love and grew up as the detested daughters of a convicted prisoner.

Zulfiqar Ali was a bachelors graduate when convicted and pursued his master’s while on death row. He received 48 diplomas during this time and even got a master’s degree in Political Science, an MBA, an MA in Islamiyat and other diplomas in psychology, Quran and Islamic Studies, communications, Arabic, journalism, law, and banking. Not only did he attain an education on his own, but he was also responsible for teaching 400 of his fellow inmates.

His dedication is what enabled him to become a strong source of restoration for his fellow prisoners. Despite not being able to afford a lawyer he ensured his journey was not redundant. His trial was anything but fair; the witnesses used to convict him were also fabricated. The defense failed to prove tangible evidence against him, nonetheless, Ali was sentenced to death.

Zulfiqar Ali’s appeals were not taken into consideration. Convicted in 1991 while on his way back home in a village near Simply Dam. Zulfiqar was caught up in a robbery outside Islamabad. He was armed and shot at the attackers trying to rob him to defend himself. As a result, 2 of the robbers died that lead to Zulfiqar and his brother being charged with murder. Therefore, his death sentence was confirmed in 2001. An appeal was made in 2002 and was rejected.

In 2007 the death penalty in Pakistan was suspended. It remained so till 2014 when the government promised that only terrorists would be punished by death. Despite this promise, more than 400 prisoners were executed for mediocre crimes that could not be linked to terrorism in any way.

In the play “No Time to Sleep” Khoosat represents Zulfiqar Ali Khan’s life who spent 17 years on death row. Ali was considered a hard working earner by his family, a loved and loving husband, a giving and warm father and a devoted son. On October 10th, Sarmad Khoosat will bring Ali’s final moments to life, once more.

*Images in this article were sourced from Dawn*


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