A prisoner serving a life sentence for murder in Central Jail Karachi has won a scholarship for further study after taking the highest score in the higher secondary school exams last year.
Among private candidates — that is, nontraditional students — Syed Naeem Shah, 35, scored the highest in Karachi last year. He won a scholarship for further studies from the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Pakistan (ICAP).
“What I have achieved while languishing in jail is not possible if one does not have conviction,” Shah told Reuters.
The Karachi penitentiary is notorious for being overcrowded, holding nearly 6,000 inmates in space meant for 2,400. In fact, all prisons across the country are at 130 percent of capacity and are poorly ventilated. They have insufficient beds and limited access to medicines, safe water, and bathing facilities, according to Amnesty International.
Speaking in a classroom inside the prison grounds, Shah said he enjoyed school as a child. However, he claimed that his family could not afford to continue his education. In jail, older inmates who were also taking classes motivated him and helped him prepare for exams.
Shah is one of 1,200 inmates studying in Central Jail Karachi. However, his success is unparalleled, said Saeed Soomro, deputy superintendent of the prison.
“His results are [also] tantamount to our success,” Soomro said, giving him the opportunity to study and providing him with books and materials.
Yet to pass an entrance exam
Shah still has to pass an entrance exam to formally take up the scholarship, an ICAP official said, requesting anonymity as he was not authorized to talk to the media.
“I feel it will be very difficult for me to pursue this scholarship from prison,” Shah said, given the technical and specialized subjects he will be pursuing.
Even before his exam success, Shah said he had filed an appeal against his conviction. It is currently pending in the high court. “I appeal to the president of Pakistan, prime minister, and chief executive of Sindh province to consider my case for remission.”
Shah was sentenced to life — 25 years — in 2018 for the shooting and killing of another man in a personal disagreement in 2010. Years spent as a prisoner on trial, plus time off for academic achievements, good behavior, and blood donations, leaves him with about six years to serve.
Story Courtesy: Reuters
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