Pakistan PM halts executions till new President takes over

Last Updated: Friday, August 23, 2013 - 19:46

Islamabad: Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Friday directed the Interior Ministry to halt all executions till September 9 when the new President will take over, a media report said.

Sharif met President Asif Ali Zardari at the presidency last night, when the head of state told the premier that the previous government led by his Pakistan People`s Party had stopped the execution of death sentences of several terrorists and criminals for five years in line with its policies.

Zardari expressed a wish that the moratorium should continue till September 9, after which the current PML-N government can review the decision with new President Mamnoon Hussain, Express News reported.

Since the authority to decide whether capital punishment should be implemented rests with the President, Sharif directed the Interior Ministry to hold the execution of death sentences.

Hussain is set to take over on September 9, a day after Zardari steps down following a five-year term. Hussain is a close aide of Sharif, whose PML-N party routed the PPP in the May 11 polls.

The PML-N government was set to end the moratorium on executions with the hanging of four convicts later this month. The move was put on hold after Zardari said he wanted to discuss the issue with Sharif.

Sharif earlier said he would not be pressured due to any threat related to the policy on the death penalty. The Taliban have said they will consider the execution of any militants as a declaration of war.

Official figures state Pakistan has over 7,000 prisoners on death row, one of the world`s largest populations of prisoners facing execution.

Human Rights Watch and the International Committee of Jurists have sent an open letter to the government, asking it to renew the moratorium on executions.

Since Zardari imposed the moratorium in June 2008, only a soldier convicted by a military court was hanged in November 2012.

PTI



First Published: Friday, August 23, 2013 - 19:45

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