Over 8,000 death row convicts’ fate hangs in balance in Pak

Islamabad :  Fate of around 8,261 death row prisoners in Pakistan hangs in the balance as the Government lifted a self-imposed moratorium on death penalty after the Peshawar school attack by Taliban militants in which at least 132 students and 16 staffers were killed.
There are around 8,261 prisoners on death row in more than five dozen jails of the country and about 30 per cent of them are believed to be convicted under terrorism act by the special courts after 2003-04, according to officials.
Most of the death row prisoners have already exhausted all options and would be hanged within weeks if the government allowed the executions.
Since 2004, Pakistani authorities have executed some 235 prisoners who were on death row and interestingly only a couple of culprits were hanged after 2008 following a moratorium on capital punishment, the Express Tribune reported.
Some 991 convicts, who were also declared proclaimed offenders either by the capital police or anti-terrorism courts, were awarded death sentences but they are at large and it is strongly believed that they have joined  terrorist groups, according to The National Crisis Management Cell (NCMC) officials.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif yesterday lifted a self-imposed moratorium on death penalty in terror related cases after ruthless Taliban militants massacred at least 132 students and 16 staffers at an army-run school in Peshawar.
Sharif said that important legal steps will be taken to plug loopholes in the justice system so that militants should not use them to escape punishment.
A de facto moratorium on civilian executions had been in place in Pakistan since 2008.
Sharif had decided to resume moratorium soon after his government took office in June last year but suspended the plan under international pressure.
Pakistan is feared to lose a concessionary trade deal with the EU after resuming hangings. Some 150 countries have abolished the death penalty or no longer carry out executions. (AGENCIES)_


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