Pakistani prisoner convicted of murder gets top grades, gets scholarship

A Pakistani prisoner serving a life sentence for murder in an overcrowded prison in Karachi has won a scholarship to continue his education after earning impressive grades in secondary school exams that put him first last year.

Prisoner Syed Naeem Shah, 35, scored the highest marks in the matriculation exams among students with special status in Karachi, Pakistan's largest city, which qualified him for a scholarship to continue his education at the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Pakistan.

"What I achieved while I was in prison would not have been possible if I had been outside," Shah said in an interview with Reuters in Karachi Central Prison set up by the British in the southeastern port city of Pakistan in 1899.

From a classroom in the prison courtyard, Shah said he enjoyed going to school as a child, but that his family could not afford his education.

In prison, older inmates who were also educated encouraged him and helped him prepare for exams.

Saeed Soomro, deputy director of the prison, said Shah was one of the 1,200 inmates receiving education at Karachi Central Prison, but his success was remarkable.

In 2018, Shah was sentenced to life imprisonment, 25 years in Pakistan, for shooting and killing a man over a personal dispute in 2010. After the years he spent under investigation, in addition to the amnesty period for his academic achievement, good conduct and blood donation, he will have about Six years in prison.

Even before he passed the exams, Shah said he had lodged an appeal against his conviction and was awaiting judgment in a high court in the southern province of Sindh.

"I appeal to the Pakistani president, prime minister and chief executive of Sindh province to consider my case for amnesty," he added.

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