Islamabad, Pakistan – Pakistan has executed a man convicted of raping and murdering a six-year-old girl in the eastern district of Kasur, jail authorities and the girl’s family have said.
Imran Ali was hanged at the Kot Lakhpat jail in the eastern city of Lahore early on Wednesday, jail officials told Al Jazeera. They spoke on condition of anonymity, as they were not authorised to speak to the media.
Ali, 24, was executed in the presence of Muhammad Amin Ansari, the father of six-year-old Zainab Ansari, whose brutal rape and murder in January sparked a widescale manhunt.
“He walked by himself to the gallows and stood there comfortably,” Muzammil Ansari, Zainab’s cousin, told Al Jazeera by telephone.
“They put the noose around his head, he did not resist. He did not ask for any forgiveness from us.”
Zainab’s body was found in a rubbish heap in Kasur on January 9, sparking nationwide outrage and protests. In Kasur, riots broke out, police clashing with angry protesters demanding justice be done in the case.
Police arrested Ali two weeks later, after closed-circuit television footage showed Zainab being led down a narrow lane in her neighbourhood. Police said that DNA tests also linked Ali to at least six other cases of rape and murder.
In February, a trial court convicted Ali for the kidnapping and murder of Zainab, handing down a death sentence on four counts, including kidnapping, rape and murder.
He was later sentenced to death for the rape and murder of four other children in Kasur.
Public hanging request denied
On Tuesday, the Lahore High Court rejected an appeal by Muhammad Amin Ansari, the victim’s father, for Ali to be hanged publicly, saying it was not the prerogative of the court to make that judgment.
The provincial government had denied an earlier, similar request by Ansari, as it did not conform to Pakistani law.
Ansari’s family said they made the demand in order to deter potential criminals.
“To the parents of other daughters, I would say just this: this request we had made for a public hanging, the objective was so that the whole world could see it, and it would have a good effect,” Zainab’s father, Muhammad, told reporters gathered outside the jail shortly after the execution on Wednesday.
“But even now, given how much the electronic media has highlighted this, because of this families and children have all gained a lot of awareness and become a lot more conscious […] about how they should bring them and take them to school and other places,” Ansari added.
Muzammil Ansari, Zainab’s cousin, said she was “not just our daughter, but a daughter of the nation.”
“Our daughter’s gone, she will never come back. But we wanted to save the other daughters of the nation, by creating fear in the hearts of those who do such horrible things,” he added.
For years, Pakistan maintained a moratorium on executions, which it lifted in late 2014 after an attack on a school in the northwestern city of Peshawar killed more than 130 schoolchildren.
Since then, the state has executed at least 497 people, with a death row population of more than 4,687. Rights groups say the use of the death penalty in Pakistan is problematic, given numerous fair trial concerns in an overloaded criminal justice system.
The eastern district of Kasur had earlier come to prominence in 2015 when police arrested a gang of paedophiles in the district. The gang had allegedly been involved in the sexually assaulting and filming more than 280 young boys.
Years later, family members of the abused children told Al Jazeera they are still awaiting justice.
Asad Hashim is Al Jazeera’s digital correspondent in Pakistan. He tweets @AsadHashim.