ISLAMABAD: Following the dramatic last-minute decision to postpone the execution of death row prisoner Saulat Mirza, the government on Thursday decided to reopen the investigation into the murder of former Karachi Electric Supply Company managing director Shahid Hamid.
Mirza's execution was delayed on Wednesday night following the airing of a video that featured what appeared to be his final confession. On Thursday, sources in the interior ministry said that the execution had been put off for a month.
In the video, broadcast on several private TV channels on Wednesday night and all-day Thursday, Mirza had confessed murdering Mr Hamid, allegedly on the orders of MQM chief Altaf Hussain, which were conveyed through his confidant, MQM leader Babar Ghauri. He also accused Sindh Governor Ishratul Ibad of patronising criminals within the party.
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The message set off an explosive chain of events, which culminated on Thursday night with Sindh Governor Ishratul Ibad denying rumours that he was stepping down.
Sources also suggested that the last-minute reprieve for Mirza could be to record an additional confessional statement.
The condemned man had hinted in the video released on Wednesday that he had more valuable information, and sources speculated that delaying his execution was an attempt to gather more information.
They also hinted that the execution might be delayed beyond a month's time if it was felt that authorities needed more time to examine the information he had provided.
An official, speaking off the record, claimed that an interview where the MQM chief had disavowed Saulat Mirza might have convinced the condemned man to "speak the truth".
But in an apparent move to ease the simmering political tensions following a Rangers raid on the party's headquarters, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan called Sindh Governor Dr Ishratul Ibad on Thursday and assured him that no unconstitutional steps would be taken.
The telephonic conversation between the two leaders came as rumours of a reported decision to put a number of MQM leaders on the exit control list were circulating.
Though Mr Ibad denied he was stepping down, there was no official comment from the interior ministry on whether the names of nine MQM leaders had been placed on the exit control list. An official only said that no more names had so far been added to the list.
The Saulat Mirza case as well as the murder of Dr Imran Farooq was also the topic of discussion when British High Commissioner Philip Barton called on Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan on Wednesday.
It is telling that following his meeting with the interior minister, the British diplomat flew back to the UK on Thursday.
There has been speculation that the government of Pakistan has handed certain evidence over to the British authorities, but this claim could not be independently verified.